COUNTIESNEWS

Lee, Kihika on warpath over Solai tragedy

Nakuru governor accuses critics of using dam disaster to fight him and advance their political interests

The decision by the Senate ad-hoc committee investigating Solai dam tragedy to summon Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui has opened a new battlefront between him and Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika.

Appearing before the committee chaired by Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr last week , Kinyanjui was hard pressed to explain what he had done to ensure the people affected by the May 9 tragedy get justice.

Kilonzo Jr accused the governor of trying to shield the dam owner Perry Mansukh.

The fact that Kihika, who also doubles up as Senate chief whip, is a member of the committee has not helped matters with Kinyanjui and his supports reading malice and political witch-hunt.

The Senator, who does not see eye to eye with Kinyanjui, is reportedly eyeing the governor’s seat in the next General Election.

Although Kihika did not attend Wednesday’s session, Kinyanjui’s supporters accused her of trying to paint him in bad light by ensuring  he appears on the same day with Mansukh.

“The line of questioning by the Senators was tied to a specific narrative — the desire to paint the governor in bad light,” Patrick Kinyua said in a comment posted in Sauti Ya Wachuuzi WhatsApp group.

Lack of capacity

Kinyanjui’s supporters further accused committee co-chair Ledama Ole Kina of trying to portray him as a culprit, saying his line of questioning was “unfair and full of prejudice.”

Kinyanjui got into trouble with the committee after he presented a report by government agencies but the committee members insisted he table a report prepared by his office.

“Forty eight people have died in your county. We would like to have your own report on the tragedy, whether technical or not,” Senator Sylvia Kasanga (Nominated) said.

Governor Kinyanjui told the committee that he had not initiated investigation into the matter arguing that the mandate lies with other government agencies.

He said Nakuru lacked the necessary capacity to carry out integrity checks on private establishments.

Among the reports he wanted to present were those prepared by the Kenya Red Cross and the National Environment Management Authority.

Responsibilities

The committee, however, insisted the responsibility of ensuring the welfare of residents lies with the governor.

“You cannot come here and give us reports of other agencies and say ‘I have no responsibilities’. You do have responsibilities,” said Ole Kina.

Kilonzo Jr added: “The county government of Nakuru appears to either, from my own impression, want to protect Perry Mansukh.”

Kinyanjui interjected saying the committee was making conclusions even before he could respond to the questions asked by the committee.

Settle scores

“You have given me seven questions. I have barely answered one and you are quick to make conclusions. You don’t want me to answer yet you stop me to give me lectures. If the senate has already reached a conclusion on this matter so be it,” he said.

And in a statement, Kinyanjui accused unnamed individuals for using the tragedy to settle political scores. He said it is unfortunate that there are people seeking political mileage from the incident.

He urged politicians to stop playing politics with the matter saying victims needed time to heal from the traumatic experience.

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