By Moses Njagih
Senate Speaker Ekwe Ethuro has said that the House will not shy away from ensuring accountability at the counties, even if it calls for impeachment of a governor or dissolution of a county. Mr Ethuro told an accountability forum bringing together Chairs of oversight commitees at the county assemblies that the Senate has a constitutional duty to defend devolution and will not forgo the responsibility. “As a senate, we have a constitutional duty to ensure that county governments work. If it means impeaching governors, that we will do and even if it means dissolving county governments, we will not hesitate it, for the good of devolution,” said Ethuro. Ethuro was speaking Friday during a high level workshop organised by the Senate Finance Committee to address challenges in revenue collection and oversight duties in the devolved units. It brought together constitutional bodies including the Controller of Budget, Auditor General, Commission for Revenue Allocation, Transitional Authority and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission. Senate invited chairpersons of the county assemblies Finance, Budget and Appropriations and County Public Accounts Committees. Ethuro said Senate will not relent on its oversight responsibilities despite the many hurdles placed on the house by those feeling threatened by its work. “Our desire is not to lynch anybody. It is not to crucify anyone. Indeed, this is not about the biblical story of Jesus and the thief, but about catching the real thief,” said Ethuro. He added: “Every mandate given to us by the Constitution has been contested…you have seen governors rushing to the media, courts, barazas to challenge our mandate, but we will not be distracted”. Lack of seriousness Senate took a swipe at the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which had also been invited as oversight bodies, but failed to show up. “Even if they are engulfed by the challenges that we are reading, including accusations of corruption, they should have sent a representative. Their absence in this forum demonstrates their lack of seriousness in oversight work,” said Finance committee chairman, Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow.
Kerrow said oversight bodies must consolidate efforts to ensure devolution is protected from the challenges it is facing. “We do not want to get to a point where only two years into devolution, Kenyans start getting second thoughts about this system of government,” he said.