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Paying the price for greed: In pursuit of cash, ward reps and CECs are now super
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|Paying the price for greed: In pursuit of cash, ward reps and CECs are now super by Kenyans247(1): Fri 13, November, 2020 04:17pm|
The greed for hefty allowances from in-person committee meetings and departmental retreats has resulted in an upsurge in Covid-19 cases among county executives.
Holding of official meetings in bars, some attended by officials exposed to the virus, and non-adherence to health guidelines are some of the factors that fuel the spread of the disease in regional governments.
Over a dozen counties are battling the second wave of the pandemic as it emerges that many executives have disregarded safety protocols in pursuit of cash through physical meetings, seminars and retreats.
“More than eight county assemblies have been shut down, 16 have closed various facilities while others have scaled down operations,” Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said last week during the virtual summit on Covid-19.
Ever since, more counties have shut down operations. In Nairobi, several ward representatives and staff are infected. The County Assembly Health committee chairman Peter Warutere has blamed the upsurge on the casual manner in which MCAs and staff conduct themselves.
No social distancing
“They are not observing social distancing rules. If they were, we would not be having the high number of infections. They are doing it casually and it is an issue that I will raise at the assembly,” said the Roysambu MCA.
The MCAs are still conducting physical meetings, with the latest being the ICT committee workshop in Mombasa last week.
“We must address this issue candidly as leaders who are expected to lead from the front. We have already lost three MCAs. Do we wait until we lose 100 of them to start taking the pandemic seriously? Although some are important for oversight purposes, we must now ensure all meetings are virtual,” said Mr Warutere.
In Mombasa, proceedings at the assembly have been postponed for another week after more county staff tested positive for Covid-19. The assembly was closed a fortnight ago when seven MCAs and one member of staff tested positive. Although they were to resume on Tuesday, Deputy Speaker Fadhili Makarani said the premises would remain closed after six staff members tested positive on Friday.
In Nyanza, Homa Bay lost its director of communications Maurice Aluoch on Monday, amid revelations that a county executive, his personal assistant and bodyguard are also infected. As a result, operations at the county headquarters and the assembly have been shut down for two weeks. Most of those battling the virus held a physical meeting a fortnight ago where one participant died while being treated at a private hospital in Homa Bay town.
In Kisii and Nyamira, failure to isolate and seek medical attention by those exposed to the virus have compounded efforts to contain the disease. There are many cases of people going about their business as usual even after their contacts have tested positive. County government staff also continue to hold in-person meetings, as they did in the run-up to Mashujaa Day, which was held at Gusii Stadium. On Monday, the Nyamira County government directed all employees to work from home for 14 days.
In Kakamega, operations at the county headquarters and the assembly have been paralysed for the past two weeks after a spike in infections among executives and MCAs. Mr Oparanya blamed it on carefree staff who exposed themselves to infections “in crowded bars and social spots”.
In Nakuru, the county assembly on Monday lost Hell's Gate MCA John Njuguna Njenga, popularly known as Wasussy. Later, Speaker Joel Maina Kairu led MCAs and staff in testing. The assembly has also been shut down for two weeks, despite protests from MCAs, who prefer in-person meetings.
In the North Rift, MCAs and executives have been holding special committee sittings and seminars, exposing most of them to the virus. The Secretary-General of the County Assemblies Forum (CAF) and Tindiret Ward Rep Kipkirui Chepkwony confirmed that he contracted the virus after attending seminars in Kisii and Kisumu towns.
“I attended a meeting in Kisii as an official of CAF and thereafter a retreat in Kisumu where I spent a night but upon returning to Kapsabet, I tested positive for coronavirus. I went into isolation, but I have since recovered,” Mr Chepkwony told the Nation.
The ward reps had been holding physical plenary and committee meetings while the executives had been operating from the office until Speaker Joshua Kiptoo and clerk Barnabas Kosgey suspended the sittings. Seven ward reps have tested positive and are in isolation.
In Bungoma, county assembly clerk John Mosongo said some MCAs deliberately refuse to isolate when they test positive. In Trans Nzoia, county executives and ward reps are also on the spot for flouting Covid-19 regulations by attending physical committee meetings and seminars to draw allowances.
Reported by Tom Matoke, Collins Omulo, Barnabas Bii, Wycliffe Kipsang Brian Ojama, Gerald Bwisa, Flora Koech, Evans Kipkura and Sammy Lutta, Phyllis Musasia, Geoffrey Ondieki, Steve Njuguna, Francis Mureithi, Waikwa Maina, Siago Cece, Benson Amadala, Ruth Mbula, George Odiwuor, Ian Byron, Manase Otsialo, Alex Njeru and Waweru Wairimu
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