Kampala, UGANDA – When it dismissed allegations brought against Meru governor Kawira Mwangaza in December last year, a Senate committee appointed to probe the claims observed that the relationship between her and the county assembly was acrimonious, contemptuous and threatened to grind the county to a halt.
The committee chaired by Kakamega senator Boni Khalwale said it was inconceivable that in the circumstances the people of Meru would enjoy the benefits of a devolved government.
The committee then called for urgent measures to bring the protagonists to the table and find an amicable solution.
“The Committee further observed that in the course of its investigation, it became apparent that matters in Meru County relating to leadership and governance were not in a satisfactory state. In the interest of the residents of Meru, the Committee recommends an urgent need for a concerted effort to reconcile and create a conducive environment for the county to realise meaningful development,” the committee said.
Soon after the process, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua brought the Meru leaders to the table in an effort to reconcile them.
Ten months later and exactly one year after the governor was impeached, the Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) impeached her for the second time.
The allegations brought against her are largely the same and mostly revolve around the Meru County First Gentleman Murega Baichu, violation of county laws and making irregular appointments among others.
The Senate, which under Article 96(1) of the Constitution represents the counties and serves to protect the interests of the counties and their governments, will exercise its oversight mandate and examine whether the impeachment was procedural.
Senate Speaker Amason Kingi was expected to receive resolutions from the county assembly last week following her impeachment on Wednesday. Mr Kingi will read out the charges against her within seven days as the Senate resumes its plenary sittings after recess.
The impeachment motion was tabled by the Majority leader Evans Mawira and was supported by 59 out of 69 MCAs, while 10 members were absent during the voting on Wednesday, October 25.
Mrs Mwangaza is one of the seven female governors elected on August 9, 2022, garnering 209,148 votes and floored the incumbent Kiraitu Murungi and the current Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi.
This will be the second time she will be heading to the Senate to defend herself after efforts to stop the impeachment process were declined by the court.
So far, the Senate has only found the charges in support of removal from the office of Governor substantiated in four cases.
They were Embu’s Martin Wambora on two occasions but was saved by the court and Mohamed Abdi of Wajir who was also reinstated by the court.
Mr Ferdinand Waititu of Kiambu and Mike Sonko of Nairobi were unlucky as their impeachments sailed through and their court bids to overturn the process failed.
Other governors who were impeached but the accusations brought against them were dismissed by the Senate were Kericho governor Paul Chepkwony, Murang’a governor Mwangi wa Iria, Nyeri’s first governor the late Nderitu Gachagua, Taita Taveta’s Granton Samboja, and Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga).
Machakos Deputy Governor Bernard Kiala was also cleared by the Senate after being impeached by MCAs.
The allegations against Mrs Mwangaza, according to the MCAs, are creating posts without the approval of the County Assembly, sending relatives to China to assess cancer treatment equipment without approval, vilifying MCAs and her deputy, Mutuma M’Ethingia, irregular appointment of some chief officers without MCAs’ approval, and creating “traffic marshals” to oversee revenue collection monitoring in Meru town without approval from MCAs.
And just like the last time where she was accused of appointing her husband to a non-existent position of the Patron of the Meru Youth Service before conducting a transparent and competitive recruitment, the MCAs have accused the county boss of naming a road after the husband.
Dr Khalwale’s committee, however, last time cleared Mrs Mwangaza stating that evidence adduced before them demonstrated that the Meru County First Gentleman did not draw any salary or benefit from Meru County.
It was noted that Mr Baichu was not on the county government payroll and the positions he was given by the Governor were non-existent.
On irregular appointments, the Senate said although the pronouncements by Mrs Mwangaza were misguided and based on populism, the allegations were not substantiated.
The senators also said there was no evidence of the alleged directive to county officers to further the interests of Baite TV, which she runs.