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Can’t quit, won’t quit: Meet Buluma, the Kakamega County Assembly Speaker with nine lives

WESTERN
By Nathan Ochunge | November 25th 2021

Embattled Kakamega County Assembly speaker Morris Buluma [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

Embattled Kakamega County Assembly Speaker Morris Buluma has presided over a chaotic House in the recent past.

Like the proverbial cat with nine lives, Mr Buluma has survived by the skin of his teeth for the past nine years of a chequered political career.

If he is not fighting an impeachment Motion, he is presiding over the passage of county budgets or crucial Bills but in a chaotic House.

In many of the impeachment Motions against him, Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has always intervened. 

Buluma has been walking a tight rope after Ward Reps removed him as Speaker, citing gross misconduct and funds misuse.

Kisa West MCA Bernard Ombogo was appointed and sworn in as Acting Speaker immediately MCAs ousted Buluma.

“Impeachment is something that must follow due process. What was done last week was null and void. I am still the substantive Speaker,” said Buluma while addressing journalists in his office for the first time since the said ouster.

Step down

He said he would not step down unless the proper procedure, as stipulated in the County Government Act 2012, is followed to the letter.

“If I accept what happened, I will be letting the devolution family down. I have seen a document on my desk purporting that I was impeached. I have seven days to respond to it and then face the Ad hoc committee to be formed and report to the House within 14 days,” said Buluma.

He added that if proper procedure was followed in removing him from office, he would honourably exit.

According to the Speaker, there was no sitting on the day of the said impeachment since he had adjourned the morning session.

The Ward Reps unanimously endorsed his removal over claims of gross misconduct, misappropriation of funds, and engaging in early campaigns.

According to Assembly Chief Whip Boniface Akosi, Buluma needs to be probed over Sh70 million missing from the county coffers, absconding of duties, and engaging in early campaigns in Matungu Constituency, where he wants to be MP in 2022.

“We received Sh120 million for conducting House business and writing committee reports recently, but Sh70 million is missing. The Speaker can only account for Sh50 million. We summoned Buluma to a Kamukunji to shed light on the matter but he declined,” claimed Mr Akosi.

The MCAs insist they have nothing against Buluma and just want him to appear before the committee tomorrow, and if he is absolved of any wrongdoing, he will continue to discharge his duties. 

Mr Ombogo said he had assumed the roles of the Speaker. “I will diligently discharge my duties in order to bring sanity at the Assembly,” said Ombogo.

In September 2019, plans to debate the impeachment of the Speaker were scuttled at the eleventh hour after the MCAs met Governor Oparanya.

The Speaker had been accused of blocking debate on the Auditor General’s reports touching on questionable expenditure by the Executive.

The Ward Reps further accused him of serving the interests of the Executive, ruling with an iron fist and absenteeism.

They accused him of not providing support staff for nominated MCAs, as well as not furnishing their offices. 

The impeachment Motion was tabled in the Assembly on September 5 by Khalaba Ward Rep Boniface Osanga.

In October 2018, the MCAs impeached Buluma, then clerk Patrick Kamwessar and the Finance Director Laban Atemba over alleged misuse of funds.

Armed with hammers, nails, and timber, the MCAs blocked their office doors. 

In June 2018, the MCAs exchanged blows in the House after disagreeing over the 2018-2019 budget worth Sh14.5 billion.

In January 2018, some MCAs walked out of a special sitting of the County Assembly that turned chaotic. They accused the Speaker of frustrating them.

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