Residents of Kericho were treated to a dramatic public spat between Governor Eric Mutai and his deputy Fred Kirui during the county's Madaraka Day Celebrations on Thursday, June 1, 2023.
It all started when the deputy governor accused his boss of sidelining and reneging on a power-sharing deal, which saw the county executives join forces to beat former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter in the UDA party primaries ahead of the August 9, 2022 polls.
In a fiery Madaraka Day speech at Litein Boys High School in Bureti Constituency, Kirui decried a lack of sufficient resources to run his office, saying he had been forced to dig into his own pockets to fuel his cars to move around the county.
The deputy governor said he felt neglected despite dropping his gubernatorial bid to support Mutai in last year's general election.
He demanded that the governor respects him while executing his duties as the county's second in command.
"The governor is here and knows the agreement we signed. I dropped my bid to be his deputy, and as I have said, I have been using my money to fuel my cars," Kirui told the residents.
"We should know that there are those who voted for me and those who voted for him. We should know that this is a coalition government. I respect the governor and I want to ask that you (governor) also respect me and all these issues will be sorted."
Governor Mutai, however, told off his deputy over the lamentations even as he cautioned him against washing their dirty linen in public.
The Kericho governor accused Kirui of misleading the public, insisting that the deputy governor was enjoying better privileges than him.
"You have two vehicles and an escort car. I only have one. We can increase the number to three and help your office with whatever you want," the governor stated.
“We can double the fuel from 150 to 300 litres. I am saying that you must not bring issues to the public for discussion. It makes us look stupid."
On their alleged 60-40 power-sharing deal, Mutai said it was "merely a deal between politicians that was overridden by the people's bigger interest in delivery of services and rolling out of development projects".
Contrary to Kirui's claims, Governor Mutai also noted that he had allocated his deputy key roles in the management of the county.
"I have allocated you duties including being the leader of government business, chairman of the sub-Cabinet committees … and you are in charge of the rollout of water projects in the county, but you are not content," Mutai said, adding that the deputy governor was trying to undermine his administration ahead of the 2027 polls.
"Your intentions are clearly to discredit the government which you are part of. As long as we are in office together, we will be charged equally."