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Siaya MCAs target finance official in impeachment plan

By JUSTUS OCHIENG’
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A showdown looms at the Siaya County Assembly on Thursday as MCAs are set to institute a motion for the removal of county Finance minister Joseph Warega.

West Asembo MCA Ambrose Akuno said he will institute the ouster motion against Mr Warega following an independent investigation detailing misappropriation of funds by his department, gross misconduct and incompetence. He claimed the embezzled funds, a total of Sh75 million, were meant for bursaries for poor students.

NON-EXISTENT STUDENTS

“In January, the county treasury received half of this money – Sh37.5 million – that was meant to be transferred to the Siaya County Bursary Fund Account immediately for onward distribution to students already vetted as needy by the Ward Education Bursary Committee,” he said, adding that the money, which was to be disbursed by March, has not reached the beneficiaries to date.

He also claimed some of the would-be beneficiaries were “non-existent students”.

The MCA, who is also the deputy chairman of the assembly’s tourism committee, also wondered why Project Management Committees (PMCs), tasked with the “critical role of projects implementation had not been funded despite the deduction of Sh110 million for the kitty”. “This money was used for unconfirmed purposes rather than paying the PMCs,” he said.

Mr Akuno further accused Mr Warega of gross misconduct, claiming he had on several occasions refused to honour summonses and respond to correspondence from the assembly to appear before it to shed light on how the county funds had been spent on various projects.

DELAYED PROJECTS

“While other county executive committee members and chief officers from other departments have been diligent in responding to invites and correspondence from the assembly, Mr Joseph Warega has been adamant and prefers to deal with issues raised by MCAs through a chief officer who is in office unprocedurally and whose interventions cannot be relied upon by the assembly,” he said.

He also accused Mr Warega of incompetency for “slow implementation of development projects in Siaya”. “The rate is agonisingly slow due to lack of or seriously delayed payment to contractors by the county treasury,” he said.

This, he said, has resulted in unprecedented roll over of projects. “Why should a county keep surviving on rolling over projects when funds are available and procurement plans are done to comply with budgetary allocations? Why should we keep returning monies to the Treasury while our people are suffering because of lack of or poor services because we have a department that lacks capacity to do what it is mandated to do?” he asked.

Yesterday, Mr Warega said he was not aware of plans to impeach him and thus could not comment on the matter. “I have not been informed of anything of that sort and, therefore, cannot comment on it for now,” he said.

Mr Akuno warned Governor Cornel Rasanga against shielding the official, saying that “should he do so, I will not hesitate to also institute an ouster motion against him”.