Meru MCAs shut down Mwangaza’s ‘one cow per poor family’ initiative

The Meru County Assembly has sealed the fate of Governor Kawira Mwangaza’s Sh67 million flagship pro-poor project ‘One Cow, One Needy Family’, describing it as a rip-off.

Members of the County Assembly on Tuesday endorsed a report by the Sectoral Committee on Agriculture and Livestock that effectively blocks any funding for the programme in the next financial year.

Presenting the report to the assembly, the chairman of the agriculture committee, Ken Naibae, said they had found that the programme was being implemented illegally and without transparency.

“We observed that there was very minimal monitoring and supervision of the dairy cows. The process of identification, procurement and distribution of dairy cows has continued without a policy framework which was a pre-requisite for its implementation,” Mr Naibae said.

He added that agriculture executive Joseph Ithana had told the assembly that they were spending funds from the previous financial year, yet no supplementary budget was prepared to regularize the expenditure.

The county had allocated Sh17 million in the 2022/2023 financial year for the project.

“It is not possible for the government to be spending money allocated in 2022 in the 2023/2024 financial year without a supplementary budget. If at all it is true, then the executive is implementing an illegality,” he said.

The MCAs backed the committee’s recommendation to have budgetary sanctions against the livestock department for implementing a programme without a policy framework.

Budget committee chairperson Jacob Mwirigi said the ‘illegal’ programme was not funded in the current budget.

“This financial year, we allocated Sh50 million under a vote known as live animals. However, the governor decided to convert it to a cow donation programme. The governor is implementing an illegal programme drawing funds illegally from the current budget. This is why it must be stopped,” Mr Mwirigi said.

MCAs also poked holes into the executive’s report that the county government was buying the cows at a standard price of Sh100,000 and a prefabricated shed at Sh100,000.

“How can every cow retail at Sh100,000? How did they arrive at the standard price? Are all the cows of the same age, breed and quality? We reject it in its entirety,” Nkomo MCA Kithinji Ethaiba said.

Nominated MCA Kiriinya Mwenda said the one cow, one needy family, as currently implemented was a charity initiative.

“Philanthropy is not the prerogative of the government. The government engages in philanthropic work during emergencies. This is an attempt by the governor to weaponise public funds against her opponents,” Mr Mwenda said.

Governor Mwangaza has maintained that if MCAs fail to allocate funds for the programme, she would continue donating cows under her private ‘Okolea initiative’.

Meru County government has been intending to triple funding for the programme with a target of distributing 5,000 cows to needy families.

In December, the county assembly of Meru recommended the impeachment of three county executive committee members including the agriculture executive for implementing the programme without an approved policy.

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