Race for Murang’a top seat no walk in the park for Wa Iria

Just as dust is beginning to settle after a bruising tussle for the Jubilee Party ticket in the Murang’a gubernatorial race, a fierce battle has emerged pitting Governor Mwangi wa Iria and billionaire businessman Peter Munga, whom he has accused of bankrolling his opponent for the seat.

In a curious outburst reported across the print media in the past few days, the governor picked on Mr Munga, a non-executive chairman of the Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company (MWSC), over a tariff dispute, bypassing the company’s chief executive who should ordinarily be answerable in such situation, thereby raising eye brows.

TARIFFS
Investigations by Saturday Nation show the row escalated after the Jubilee Party nominations when it emerged that one of Mr Munga’s employees, Mr Moses Mwangi, had resigned to vie for the Murang’a gubernatorial seat as an independent candidate.

It was widely assumed that whoever wins the Jubilee Party ticket for the seat would be elected governor.

Mr Wa Iria has not only accused Mr Munga publicly of sponsoring Mr Mwangi to vie against him, but is also blaming a festering dispute over the rates charged by the water company on Mr Munga.

SERVICE PROVIDERS

The tariff dispute has sucked in industry regulator Water Services Regulatory Board (Wasreb), which had approved the tariff charged by the MWSC.

“Wasreb has engaged with the County Government of Murang’a on how to effectively take control of all the water service providers in its area.

“So far our advice has not been implemented,” the board’s CEO Robert Gakubia wrote in a letter addressed to the governor and speaker of the county’s assembly on October 2, 2015.

The letter was copied to the Principal Secretary Ministry of Water and Irrigation and the MD of MWSC.

There was widespread belief in Murang’a that Mr Wa Iria would sail through easily, especially after he won the hard-fought Jubilee Party nomination contest that pitted him against Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau, until Mr Mwangi stepped in to vie against him as an independent.

READ: Why Jamleck dropped out of governorship chase

READ: Winners and losers in Mt Kenya JP primaries

WA IRIA REPRESENTATIVES

Mr Munga has however dismissed Mr Wa Iria’s assertions that he is supporting Mwangi’s candidature financially.

He also denied claims that the water company has been carrying out its duties in secrecy and that it has increased water tariffs without consulting his government.

Mr Munga said it was unfortunate for the Governor to claim that he has not been actively involved in all the undertakings of the water provider, saying that the governor was represented by two directors at the water company.

CAMPAIGN FUNDING
Asked whether he deliberately fielded his employee to face off with the governor, Mr Munga said that Mr Mwangi had resigned from his work and was free to pursue whatever he wanted.

He also said he is not funding him just the way he did not fund Mr Wa Iria, who incidentally, was also Mr Munga’s employee before he resigned in 2013 to vie for the county’s top job.

“Mwangi wa Iria used to work for me before vying for the gubernatorial position in Murang’a. I did not fund him.

“Why should he tell people that I have funded his rival just because he is my immediate former employee?” Mr Munga posed.

MUNGA NOT A POLITICIAN
With the county residents watching in awe, some say Mr Wa Iria, who is widely loved for his populist ideals, may be fomenting rivalries as he goes about building bridges following the divisive Jubilee Party nominations and disparate voices.

On his side, Mr Munga says he wouldn’t engage the governor since he is not a politician.

“Governor Wa Iria is part and parcel of Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company since he is represented by two directors, the County Executive Committee Member for Water who is in his cabinet and the town Administrator,” Mr Munga said.

Mr Munga told the Nation that it was the business of Water Services Regulatory Board to lower or increase water tariffs, contrary to Mr Wa Iria’s accusations.

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