Embu County has lately been in the news for all the wrong reasons, in particular what can only pass for “devolved corruption”. What may not be known to the public is that the case of Embu is but the begining of a revelation of the level of governance rot in almost all the counties.
A case in point is the county of Homabay which has continued to experience rampant disregard of the provisions under the Devolution Act especially on matters Procurement, Employment and Financial Control. Reliable sources inform that the “County Secretary” has usurped all procurement authority relegating the procurement office function to purely ceremonial. The holder of the office is said to control every aspect of procurement activities leaving one wondering whether that is the purvey of his office.
The County Auditor apparently is his sidekick with whom most of the financial scams in the county are hatched and who basically approves whatever the County Secretary instructs of him. Recent activity point to misuse of funds by way of large over the cash withdrawals to fund unauthorised and un-budgeted expenses.
In one incident cash close to Ksh 200 million was paid to an “investor” as equity contribution for the Agricity proposed project – which now seems to be a ghost project and it is thought that the purported transfer was purely a scam to defraud the County of its scarce resources. Further monies are spent on activities such as funding demonstrations against the County Assembly and the Public Service Board or at times to influence the County Assembly Members to look the other way as the office of the Governor carries out its mismanagement activities and abuse of office.
The “County Secretary”, who is in office irregularly, because the Governor has refused to subject recruitment of that office to a competitive process, has also taken up the function of the Public Service Board employing clerical and revenue collection officers’ most of whom are relatives, siblings or even offspring of officers in the Governors office.
In a stark display of impunity, the Governor forced in the name of the wife of the County Auditor for consideration for appointment as one of the Chief officers – what cheek! Is the County of Homabay so without qualified people that it has to employ a husband to oversight his wife in the provision of service to the public? Our source also confirmed that the “County Secretary’s” and Auditor’s daughters have been employed without undergoing the proper Public Service Board processes.
The recent recruitment exercise of County chief officers has been mired in grand manupulation in the shortisting exercise with poor performers being elevated to best qualified, with some being offered dockets they were not qualified nor applied for! A silent battle has raged between members of the Public Service Board with one side wanting to follow laid down procedures and the other side blatantly stating that their reason for being in the Public Service Board is to serve the interests of the Governor as spelt out by the “County Secretary”.
It is interesting to note that the Governor violated the law by purporting to instruct the Public Service Board to confirm appointment of “County Secretary”, County Auditor and the wife of the Auditor as Chief Officer in the Agriculture docket- without following laid down due process.
The corruption of the recruitment process has given rise to new high to the definition of
nepotism resulting in lack of meritocracy, regional, gender and consideration of persons with disability. It is absurd that of the ten names proposed for Chief officers, a relative of the Governor who had applied for the position of Trade, Industry and Investment has instead been considered for Finance, and also the distribution has favoured some sub-counties leaving out equally qualified persons from less favoured ones. It is noteworthy that some of the proposed names for Chief officers did not meet the advertisement criteria leading one to wonder whether the benchmarks set out in the vacancy notification were intended to disenfranchise otherwise qualified persons.
Homabay County maybe the only County that has adopted a media house reporter and put him on the payroll. He invariably never reports anything negative touching on the office of the Governor thus the ever rosy news from Homabay County.
When does the Auditor General or the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commision look into such cases? Some of the players in the office of the Governor have been heard to claim that no investgation originating from these organisations’ regional offices in Kisumu could touch them as the County Auditor could handle them having survived investigation while working in Kisumu prior to devolving himself to Homabay County!
The Senate should take an interest in Homabay County and unearth the goings on before things get out of hand!