Kisumu residents have criticised their ward representatives for going on a Sh15 million “bonding trip” to Tanzania at a time when key politicians from the region, including Cord leader Raila Odinga, are traversing the county to mobilise supporters to register as voters.
The MCAs, who are on recess until February, left for Tanzania on Monday, with each of the 47 members expected to pocket Sh260,000 in allowances, according to a senior assembly official.
Some members, however, took the allowances but remained in Kisumu to attend a court case involving Speaker Ann Adul and clerk Phillip Adundo.
Ms Adul said she was aware of the trip but was not part of it.
“I am aware of the trip but I am concentrating on my court case,” Ms Adul said.
The Speaker chairs the assembly service board, which approved the trip.
The assembly has been on the spot over the number of trips sanctioned by the House, with a report by the Auditor-General showing they spent Sh78 million to fund foreign trips in the past two years.
Among the destinations the MCAs have visited are Uganda, Mombasa, Nairobi, China, Singapore and Israel.
But speaking to the Nation on Tuesday, Audi Ogada, the chairman of the Kisumu residents association, Denis Menya of the youth caucus and Denis Konge’re of Concern Worldwide, a civil society group, called the trip political suicide by the MCAs.
Mr Ogada dismissed the trip as a “non-priority”, saying its timing is suspect and only meant to raise funds for re-election campaigns.
“This is a perfect example of blatant abuse of office and public resources orchestrated by a House whose sole responsibility was to oversight use of public resources,” he said.
“The MCAs have failed us and it is now very clear that we will have to send all of them home at the ballot. We will make a very strong petition in the coming days to challenge this abuse of resources,” he added.
Efforts to get comments from the MCAs were not successful as most had switched off their phones while others did pick up calls.
Mr Koneg’ere called for a lifestyle audit of the MCAs.
“The decision to go for the trip borders on greed, selfishness and especially at a time Kisumu faces hunger due to the drought,” said Mr Konge’ere.
The trip also comes at a time when the county government has raised concerns about an impending cash crisis that Governor Jack Ranguma said has crippled operations including payment of salaries and development projects.
Last week, a group of contractors stormed the governor’s office demanding payment for projects they said had been completed in 2016 but were still unpaid for.
Besides the trips, the House has also been in the spotlight for allocating Sh3 million for training members on how to use iPads purchased by the county government.