Coronavirus saves Waiguru from impeachment
The coronavirus pandemic has spared Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru from being subjected to an impeachment process.
High Court judge Weldon Korir ruled that the Kirinyaga County Assembly should hold its horses until after the Covid-19 disease is contained.
In his ruling, the judge said holding the impeachment proceedings at this period will automatically prejudice Governor Waiguru’s political rights as well as that of fair administration and hearing.
“In my view, the unique circumstances posed by the Covid-19 pandemic imposes a duty to the court to interfere with the County Assembly’s mandate in so far as the impeachment proceeding is concerned, the governor’s rights are threatened as well as the doctrine of public participation will be violated,” said Justice Korir.
But even though this comes as a reprieve to Governor Waiguru, the judge was quick to put a disclaimer to his ruling pointing out that were it not for the Coronavirus pandemic, he would not have heeded to her request to halt the impeachment process.
And since Ms Waiguru had told court that she is complying with the directive on working from home, the judge pointed out that she is required to present herself before the Assembly for the impeachment proceedings together with her lawyers to defend herself.
Even though the assembly had already embarked on a process of asking the public to submit a memorandum on her impeachment because rallies and gatherings are currently banned, the judge ruled that the right of voters should be loud and clear in such matters because they are the real masters.
He pointed out that it is evident that public participation will be affected by this pandemic yet they must be involved through qualitative and quantitative participation.
He noted that since there are no meetings and technology may be a challenge since rallies are cheapest as well as easiest method to use while considering the measures put in place to spread of Coronavirus disease.
“I do not find merit in the claim that the motion be stopped because it lacks necessary threshold or that the process is in bad faith, but because of Covid-19 pandemic, how does this affect operations of the Assembly? This is exceptional and should be considered,” said Justice Korir.
The judge issued this decision in a suit in which Ms Waiguru sued the County Assembly of Kirinyaga and it’s Speaker on March 31, while seeking to stop her impeding impeachment process.
However, two Members of the said County Assembly – Maureen Mwangi and Kepha Kariuki – had filed a suit a day earlier seeking to halt those proceedings too saying that sittings cannot be held owing to the Covid 19pandemic.
While the judge gave Ms Waiguru a reprieve in her case, he dismissed the suit by the two MCS saying that the court will not be used to advance agenda of the minority in overturning the majority vote.
He pointed out that no constitutional organ should use Coronavirus disease as an opportunity for micromanaging operations.
He said that he was confident that all public offices have men and women who are reasonable enough to make proper decisions in times of crisis such as now while respecting the law.
He said the court has no powers to adjourn sittings of the Assembly because it’s that same house which may be required to convene urgently to debate an issue related to Covid 19.
A motion to have the said governor removed from her gubernatorial office was tabled on April 1 before the house committee and was to be debated in the Assembly after seven days.
According to Ms Waiguru, some Members of the County Assembly are unhappy with the a court decision which suspended the resolution by the house to abolish the directorate of liason and communication.
She argued that the timing of the impeachment was suspect since she cannot be able to adequately prepare here defence since only few staff members are in office following the directive on social distancing
She told court that she suffers hypertension hence she is working from home to avoid the risk of being infected with Coronavirus yet public servants with existing medical conditions have been advised to work from home to reduce their susceptibility to the illness.
She claimed that area residents are also complying with measures put in place by the national government to stop spread of Coronavirus hence they would be denied the opportunity to participate in the process.
She alleged that the motion could proceed without her input and that of the public who have an interest hence lead to a mockery of democracy.
But the county Assembly argued that it had put up measures to ensure members are protected during the process such as use of masks and sanitizers.
It also told court that they intended to use technology to allow fair hearing and public participation.
The cases will be mentioned on May 14.