The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Governor Awiti Defends Harambees in Nyanza

Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti has criticised leaders for politicising funds drives in Nyanza region. Awiti said Kenyans have since independence relied on harambees to supplement state funding in the construction of schools, hospitals, churches and payment of fees for needy children.

"The spirit of harambee is enshrined in our national emblem. It means pulling together and assisting the needy. It is therefore wrong to criticize or intimidate those willing to help our people," Awiti said.

He said as a governor of one of the poorest counties, he welcomes philanthropists wishing to assist in building schools and other communal institutions.

Speaking at Nyarende SDA church in Kosele, Kasipul subcounty on Saturday, Awiti called for unity among leaders in Nyanza to address development in the region. He said it is too early to engage in competitive politics.

"Many of our leaders and even managers of leading organisations went to school because of harambees. We should not block leaders from raising funds from their friends if this money will help our people," he said.

There has been a raging debate among some Orange Democratic Movement party officials over the motive of MPs who have been inviting leaders from outside Nyanza for fundraisers. Some MPs have claimed that the fund drives are meant to undermine ODM leadership.

Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero has been participating in a number of harambees in Luo Nyanza. Awiti, who was accompanied by a senior SDA pastor Lewis Ondiek and a Gem politician Elisha Odhiambo said Nyanza, just like other regions needs harambees to bridge development gaps.

Awiti said his government will from this month start implementing some of the projects meant to spur growth in the county.

"This is a year of action. We spent a better part of 2013 working on the road map. We developed the Integrated Development Plan in wooing investors. It is now time to implement these projects and I have instructed my ministers to do just that," Awiti said.

He added: "Some people have complained that they are yet to see action. But they should know that to eat, one must cook. To cook, one must buy food, fetch firewood, lit the fire. We now want to cook."

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