Friday, 16 August 2013

Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma Spirited Response to Negative Press on Kisumu County

Kisumu voter going by the virtual name Mzee had this to say about Governor Jack Ranguma of Kisumu County:

At the end of the five years under the new constitution, some counties will have better than others. Those who elected innovative governors with good agendas would have taken a major leap in the right direction. In counties with bad governors, we will witnesses a backward trend. But I will give it to Mutua and Joho, these guys are really for the people, at least for now. Cyprian Awiti is also doing much better in Homabay county.

Even as our governors demand more money from the central government and even threaten with a referendum on the same, most don’t have an idea of what they are supposed to do. Before demanding more cash they should show that they can effectively spend the little they have.

I recently listened to a one hour long interview of governor Ranguma of Kisumu County on Mayienga FM and was not pleased with what I heard.

The man is still struggling with petty stuff. His number one priority being to evict the county commissioner from her from the former DCs house. Then his second priority is to occupy the former PCs house which is next to the state house. Why? Because he needs easy access to the president (in case he is in town) to discuss matters of regional importance.

The stupidity of the above is that none of the two can ever happen. Reason being that all former municipality council assets went to the county government while those that belonged to the central government remained as such e.g. the two named premises. In other words, eviction of the CC or occupation of the former PCs house does not arise. Yet this is what is occupying most of the governors day. He forgets that he is in opposition and that the president’s ear on the ground is not the governor but the CC (never mind that they are illegal). This is a simple fact that any person should be aware of.

Ranguma stays at the Kisumu Hotel because he does not want to live in the former mayors house, which by the way has been allocated 10M for renovation. The reason why he does not want to stay in the former mayor’s house, which is in the suburbs of Milimani, is because it’s in the “back street”.

The man wants to stay along” Jomo Kenyatta highway, in a house facing the lake” and nowhere else. So it either the two locations or the hotel and tax payers have to pay the bills. The man comes from Kano, just a few minutes’ drive from Kisumu town; one wonders why he cannot stay there. After all it’s in Kisumu County. I’m always ashamed to see the governor’s flag flying atop Kisumu Hotel.

When asked what his flag ship project is, the man did not have an idea. In fact he was asked what he was doing that can be compared Konza or Joho´s county security project. He simply said that there was no land in Kisumu County to build a Konza like project. I found this ridiculous because his own home of Kano is still a “wilderness”.

Asked about the luxurious cars he wants to buy for the county executives, he said that the roads are so bad only a Prado can manage. How about buying a cheaper 4 wheel drive car Mr. Governor or even better fixing the roads.

The man holds all big meetings in Bondo (University) because Kisumu has no hall that can hold more than 100 people or even proper conference facilities. When asked what he was doing about it, he claimed that he would be asking donors to help out with the same. Why not use the billions the county is to be provided with to build a modern facility in the county.

Ranguma is one of the most useless governors we have in Kenya. There is nothing he has done since he took over save for one truck that collects garbage in the center of town and dumps right outside the gates of Kisumu stadium. Why not build a waste recycling plant instead of buying prados. Hello!

Another partriotic Kenyan, Job, decided to contact Governor Ranguma directly and had a lengthy and frankly candid conversation with him, addressing all these questions raised by Mzee above.

This was the response:

Keeping the Governor Honest!

  • Kisumu’s governor Jack Ranguma vigorously defends his administration and blames media and “status quo” elements of giving Kisumu “bad publicity” to justify their efforts at “trying to kill devolution”. Is this factual or mere politics? Let’s keep him honest!

    1) On whether Kisumu will lag behind as other counties leap forward with devolution:

    Ranguma objects and declares Kisumu will fare much better than most counties. He outlines his agenda {agriculture, infrastructure, industrialization, ICT …etcetera}. He states they hit the ground running {removal of hyacinth started, cleaning exercises started, reclaiming grabbed land, planning for solar street lights, GPS mapping to secure land titles and promote investors requiring land, lighthouses for docking of vessels at port, county cleaning exercises, planning a water-harvesting dam along Kisumu-Kericho border [together with Kericho governor], and proposing a ‘people-empowering’ budget}.
    A lot of strides in recent development of Kisumu have little to do with Governor Jack Ranguma. It is in fact the previous coalition government that planned and funded:

    The Airport Expansion and associated developments which spurred budding and reviving industries.

    The Hyacinth Removal: It is the Kenya Maritimes Authority that bought a water-master vessel for clearing the hyacinth (plus power generation + fertilizer production). This is basically another product of the last coalition government’s plan to clear Lake Victoria waters for transport, tourism, fishing and sports – not Ranguma’s county administration.

    Lighthouses: It is again the Maritine Authority that will light up the lighthouses for directing docking vessels – the governor’s role is infinitesimal.

    Cleaning Exercises: As a couple of other ideas on course, this is an initiative of his former rival & now Environmental Executive (Rhoda Ahonobadha). It still falls short nevertheless because the dumpsite by the stadium is still as high as a mountain. The governor should have by now already secured a dumpsite (on existing council land) and planned for a safe waste disposal facility. There is always this temptation by former bureaucrats like Ranguma to run to the budget “to allocate funds for” hot items like land for a dumpsite…this old corruption mill revolving around land identification and purchase needs to stop. The County government has plenty of municipal and council land in every corner of the county that can serve as a waste processing and dumping site. Just get down to honest work and start cleaning the county!

    Clean water provision: For the first time since the colonial government invested in clean water provision in the 1920s, it was again the coalition government that invested more than a billion shillings (through the Lake Victoria South Water Service Board) to divert and treat water from the Kibos River (flowing down from Nandi Hills) at a 36,000 m3 plant in Kajulu. This water to be stored in a 6 million liter reservoir will supply Kisumu City’s 1/2 a million people and will also be distributed through piped networks to other peri-urban population centers by gravity. While the timing creates room to attribute false credit, Mr. Ranguma is basically a spectator, not executor of these ongoing developments that will be completed soon.

    Budget: See review below.

    2) Is Ranguma focusing on petty agenda such as evicting former DCs and occupying the PC’s home?

    Ranguma explains the importance of securing all county properties currently being targeted by outgoing bureaucrats from the national government – in basically all counties.


    There have been actual complaints about former senior provincial administration officials (former DCs and PCs, including retired ones) grabbing public houses in Kisumu’s Milimani Estate. Since many of these bureaucrats are not locals, they are alleged to have irregularly sold off such properties to private developers who then remodeled them, or demolished them to put up rental flats.

    I think the governor is fully entitled to take full audit of all property that should constitutionally be handed down to the county government. It is also reasonable to demand that a former PC’s residence revert to county government simply because (in my view) the new Constitution restructured the provincial administration and abolished the PCs office – to fit into the new devolved governments. The unconstitutional holders of County Commissions can temporarily use former DC premises as this issue heads up towards the Supreme Court. However, this role should neither be his # 1 priority nor crowd out his time.

    2) Is Kisumu’s budget reasonable as per the governor?

    Ranguma defends his budget and blames detractors for focusing on negative sideshows. The proof however lies in the pudding. You can tell a good leader’s vision through his budget. Let’s see.


    Before combing through the budget, it is a FACT that Ranguma’s budget has (alongside those of a few other counties) already been rejected by the national Controller of Budget because it runs into deficit. He was ordered to revise it on the grounds that he cannot spend (expenditure) more than he gets (revenue).
    Comparing Kisumu’s budget with those of other counties, there are indeed some troubling signs. What Ranguma drafted is certainly not what Kisumu residents proposed during the budget meetings in various constituency social halls:

    Kisumu is among 29 (out of 47) Counties whose budgets have recurrent expenditure exceeding development spending. Only 18 counties (like Mutua’s Machakos, Joho’s Mombasa, Rutto’s Bomet, Ojaamong’s Busia, and Nanok’s Turkana) have allocated a greater proportion of funds for development (in infrastructure, health, schools, dams, markets, cottage industries) than for recurrent items (salaries and pompous luxuries).

    • Part of the huge recurrent spending is because Ranguma has not tackled the obvious FACT that many “ghost” workers still exist in the payrolls of former Municipal and Council offices. A monthly wage bill of Sh 90 million is not sustainable for such a small government, period! That’s a whooping Sh 1 billion a year on salaries alone!!! If this is not sleeping on the job, it can only be called complicity in corruption! Why has there been no physical audit of county staff since the swearing-in ceremony? This can be done effectively by revising the mode of payment of salaries during this transition to demand a physical head-count. A small policy change suspending direct bank deposits for salary payments — instead “kila mtu apange laini” at their respective accounts offices with auditors/department heads/payroll registers all in toe. This will weed out ghost workers instantly – but there must be will and commitment. Secondly, this habit of patronage appointments (without assembly approval) will swell the wage bill further. How much are the “Remote Sensing” and “Renewable Energy” experts being appointed every other day by the governor being paid?

    • Ranguma’s budget also has a lot of pork-barrel spending on ostentatious and grandiose items such as gas-guzzling Toyota Prados for each of his cabinet members (basically a bribe to his former rivals in the governor’s race – at least 4 sit in his cabinet), cheap car loans for County Assembly members (another bribe to local politicians to buy free rubber-stamping of his future decisions), a Sh 10 million allocation to renovate the governor’s house (slashed down from an initial proposal of Sh 80 million). No Kisumu resident will be smiling with Ranguma in view of these wasteful extravagancies.

    • If you compare Ranguma’s Sh 10 billion budget with that of Alfred Mutua of Machakos; despite Mutua’s less revenue stream (Sh 4.1 billion), the latter has allocated 53% of all cash into development (recurrent spending only 47%). Ranguma allocated only 33% funds for development while 63% recurrent. Mutua allocated 390 million to Health and Emergency; 361 million to Agriculture and Livestock; 220 million to Education; 1.2 billion to roads, transport, public works; 700 million to Irrigation; 260 million for damming; 280 million for small municipalities; and ICT investments of 200 million. When it comes to Ranguma, there is no line-by-line itemization.

    Where are Kisumu’s allocations for much needed fish cooling/storage plants along beaches, a fish processing plant, boreholes, cattle dip and livestock extension services, an animal or poultry feeds factory or market stalls? There must be some level of public investments in relevant sectors; counties must not be held back by counterproductive liberal ideologies. I doubt whether Ranguma proposed these popular initiatives suggested by Kisumu county residents. Are millions allocated for seminars and international travel of assembly members & county executives while nothing is set aside for the crucial items above? Well, Kisumu residents cannot easily tell because of the next point.

    • Ranguma’s budget outline conceals details of the itemization/listing of individual budget items based on either sectors (health, education, infrastructure etc) or (constituencies) as most governors have done. The devil lies in this detail that is so far lacking. Why is he hiding these details in the front-page outline?
    3) Wasteful spending on meetings in Bondo?

    As Mzee already noted, this is straight-out hogwash.


    Kisumu County has universities (including Maseno University) and colleges (like Tom Mboya Labor College) with big halls and conference facilities that could hold huge meetings. The myth that Kisumu has no big hall is therefore easy to debunk.

    A visionary governor of the strategically-positioned Kisumu would in fact plan a modern video conferencing facility that can host business seminars or even a regional meeting to the level of East African heads of state at Kisumu. Sending his county meetings to Bondo is terrible politics depicting Ranguma as weak and prone to kowtowing to his influential deputy from Bondo. This is political ineptitude at its best. Incidentally, the clumsy ineffectiveness shows in most other areas.

    The difference between Mutua and Ranguma for instance, is that the former has less patronage baggage on his shoulders. He is not beholden to special interest groups – only dedicated to his Machakos voters. When it comes to the former KRA bureaucrat Ranguma, he has to look over his shoulder at every turn. He is apparently ceding big ground to special interest groups (his former rivals, County Assembly politicians, clan factions [from Kisumo, Nyakach, Seme, Nyando, and Muhoroni], cartels of town merchants, business monopolies, lobbies fronted by his own deputy, his former KRA sharks, and many others. In trying to please all these people, he will inevitably collide with voters – probably that’s exactly where his rivals are driving him into. It’s no wonder Ranguma is already being booed by Kisumu voters – this early.

    4) On ridiculous cultural law being passed by Kisumu County Assembly.

    Needless to state, Ranguma is in no mood to rock the boat of the same county assembly that he relies on to pass agenda and approve his spending plans.

    I initially dismissed this issue as a classic waste of time on trivial and vexatious non-issues until I got wind of the full extent of the so called Culture Bill. Here is the first fundamental problem with such ventures. Whose culture are these Kisumu representatives deliberating? The last time I checked, Kisumu was still inhabited by people whose cultural roots range from South East Asia, Europe, Middle East, and all corners of Africa. There are inhabitants from all of Kenya’s 42 tribes living in Kisumu. The MP for Kisumu Town East actually has cultural roots in South East Asia. Is this bill incorporating elements from all of these cultures? Why would these elected members even contemplate an attempt to impose cultural dictatorship in Kisumu? This should be unconstitutional in the first place – violating many citizens’ Bill of Rights.

    The outrageous and misguided proposal not only tries to legislate how women sit on bikes but also wades dangerously into the delicate terrain of public health. These assembly representatives are basically trying to legalize untested miti-shamba herbs and unregulated concoctions – essentially legitimizing traditional medicine-men through the back door. This is nothing but reckless endangerment of the public by uneducated and largely uninformed busybodies. This should not be allowed in Kisumu in the 21st Century. One of the women members from Seme proposed an additional clause – castration of older men who marry under-age girls. Where is all this madness and confusion heading? These are indeed wake-up calls which beg for scrutiny of what goes on in all 47 county assemblies. If we are not careful, we shall end up with 47 Talibanistans with 47 sets of ridiculous and unconstitutional laws.

    Acknowledgments: Deep Cogitation Blog, Mzee, Job

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