MPs ‘dump’ caucus as party interests take centre stage
‘Group agenda got lost when political party interests overtook community goals’
The projects in the popular wish list presented by Western MPs to President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House last year may not be completed before the election, following the imminent collapse of a caucus.
In June last year, 25 Western MPs, led by Budalang’i’s Ababu Namwamba, met Uhuru and Deputy President William Ruto to discuss ways to uplift the region’s economic status and revive the struggling Mumias Sugar Company.
The government agreed to set aside Sh1 billion for the ailing firm. It has so far released Sh 3.3 billion to Mumias Sugar.
The leaders, under the Western Parliamentary Caucus, presented a list of projects, including the completion of the Kisumu-Kakamega-Webuye and Sigalagala-Butere-Sidindi roads started by the grand coalition government.
The projects have dragged on for more than five years.
Uhuru postponed his visit to the region from today to next Thursday. He travelled to Morocco for the COP climate conference. Uhuru was supposed to preside over Kibabii University’s first graduation ceremony in Bungoma county.
Other roads the MPs proposed for tarmacking include the Ibokolo-Shianda- Malaha- Nambacha, Lurambi-Nambacha- Musikoma, Musikoma-Buyofu-Nambale and Turbo-Sikhendu roads.
Lugari MP Ayub Savula yesterday said, “I led the first meeting to State House, where we presented a number of roads we wanted tarmarcked and proposed professionals for appointment to state corporations and other jobs.”
The second meeting was led by chairman John Bunyasi (Nambale). Savula said the group’s efforts were in vain because only Water CS Eugene Wamalwa was appointed.
The group’s main agenda was to collectively engage the government on pressing issues, regardless of the political affiliations of members.
Savula said the group’s agenda got lost when political party interests overtook the community goals and everyone went his way.
“It is only today that our group secretary Malulu Injendi (Malava) sent text messages to members to support Funyula MP Paul Otuoma following the death of his son,” he said.
Savula said ODM members lost trust in Bunyasi and accused him of driving the agenda of ANC.
Members from Jubilee also saw their ODM counterparts as advancing their party ideals, making it difficult to hold together, the MP said.
Washiali told the Star on the phone yesterday, “We realised the attendance was reducing by the day. The last meeting was held at Sabatia MP Alfred Agoi’s home in Vihiga county without representation from Bungoma county.”
He said members are willing continue pushing the caucus agenda, but political interests are pulling them apart. The imminent collapse of the group means leaders continue to operate independently, slowing down development.
Injendi said the group achieved some of its goals, including pushing for the award of a charter to Kibabii University to make it the second fullfledged university in the region.
“We cannot say the roads we requested to be built have been ignored because the government works through clear structures and most of them are at the tender stage,” he said.
Injendi said the group is still active. “It’s just that members respect each other’s positions,” he said.
The Western Parliamentary Caucus held a two-day retreat in Busia town last year. Issues discussed included the failure of a candidate from Western to secure the chairmanship of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee following Namwamba’s removal.
The ailing Mudete tea factory was also discussed.
President Uhuru Kenyatta (in blue jacket) and Western leaders arrive for the opening of the Lwakhakha border post in Bungoma county on November 16 last year