Impeached! MCAs vote to oust Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza
Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza was on Wednesday impeached after just 112 days in office. All MCAs present at the assembly voted unanimously to have Ms Mwangaza removed from office for gross misconduct, abuse of office and gross violation of the constitution and county laws.
The MCAs voted by roll call with each being required to stand and proclaim the position.
Sixty-seven MCAs voted to impeach the governor. Nkomo MCA Kithinji Ethaiba was absent and was said to be sick. Also absent was Kiagu MCA Simon Kiambi who is opposed to the motion was absent.
Specifically, Abogeta West MCA and minority whip Dennis Kiogora accuses the governor of nepotism, illegal appointments, unlawful dismissals, usurpation of constitutional and statutory functions, incitement, bullying, vilification and misleading campaigns against other leaders.
Other accusations are forceful entry into the assembly and mobilizing unlawful riots against MCAs, violation of public finance management laws and misconduct relating to the nomination of CECs.
The impeachment motion was backed by signatures of 68 out of 69 MCAs.
Kiagu MCA Simon Kiambi, who is the lone opposer of the motion, was de-whipped by the UDA party from all house committees.
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In a communication written by majority whip Jim Muchui, Mr Kiambi and nominated MCA Kinanu Koome were removed from four and three committees respectively.
On Wednesday, determined MCAs arrived at the assembly premises at dawn.
Debate kicked off amid tight security from the regular police and the rapid deployment unit while a group of governor Mwangaza’s supporters sang in her support outside the gate.
Dressed in black suits, white shirts and red ties, the MCAs started the day with song and chants before holding a prayer and worship session before the morning sitting.
Besides violating the constitution, governor Mwangaza is accused of flouting several national and county laws including Public Officers Ethics Act, County Governments Act, Meru Youth Service Act, Public Appointments (County Assemblies Approval ) Act, and Fair Administrative Actions Act.
Others are the Employment Act, Leadership and Integrity Act, County Assemblies Powers and Privileges Act, Public Finance Management Act, Municipality and Meru County Retention and Enhancement Fund Act.
However, Governor Mwangaza, through her lawyer Elias Mutuma, turned down the invitation to defend herself before the assembly arguing that the motion is in contempt of court.
“… proceeding with the motion shall be deemed as contempt of court which shall attract the appropriate legal action against any contemnors who shall be held personally liable.” Lawyer Mutuma states.
Lawyer Mutuma said there were various weighty matters awaiting determination by the high court including whether the governor can be impeached three months after election and whether a fresh impeachment motion can be tabled after not less than 24 months.
But Speaker Ayub Bundi dismissed Ms Mwangaza’s argument saying she was duly served and that a letter from the lawyer cannot stop the house proceedings.
While tabling the motion, Mr Kiogora said the governor had continued to break the law even after the impeachment process started.
“The only cure to the wrongs and lawlessness committed by the governor is impeachment. There is no law that allows the governor to recruit staff or establish committees without following due process. She has continued to bully elected leaders and behave as if we are in a banana republic,” Mr Kiogora said.
Mr Kiogora argues that the actions of the county boss have created a toxic environment “in which the governor cannot be relied upon to work harmoniously with staff and elected leaders… ”
“The governor’s continued stay in office under the prevailing toxic environment will inevitably undermine effective and efficient service delivery and thus hurt the interests of the people.” the MCA argues.
Governor Mwangaza is accused of appointing her husband as Meru Youth Service Patron and a non-existent position of hustlers ambassador without following the law.
She is also accused of appointing five unqualified persons to hold county offices without a transparent recruitment process, making roadside appointments of workers and appointing a committee to allocate taxi bays in Meru town against the law.
Ms Mwangaza is also on the spot for directing ward and sub county administrators to usurp the functions and mandate of the County Public Service Board.
Further, the motion cites illegal dismissal of four heads of county autonomous bodies before the end of their contract, falsely accusing MCAs of operating like a cartel, corruption, greed and blackmail as well as vilifying and bullying other leaders.
Mr Kiogora said 1300 residents took part in the public participation forums held in 16 sub counties.
While supporting the impeachment motion, the MCAs said the governor lacks capacity and administrative skills to run the county.
Minority leader Mwenda Ithili said the governor had stalled the county government by fighting other leaders and playing populist politics.
“Today I am a happy man because this motion marks the start of restoring sanity in Meru. I laud my fellow MCAs for standing their ground to play the oversight role. I am a victim of this bad governance and humiliation. This is why the governor must be impeached,” Mr Ithili, who is Akithii MCA, said.
Majority Leader Evans Mawira said the governor had flouted too many laws to be left alone.
We cannot romanticise public appointments. Therefore, we have no alternative other than to impeach the governor. This is a message to the governor that the writing is on the wall; her reign has come to an end,” he said.
Nominated MCA Janerose Mati said the lack of communication between the assembly and MCAs had worsened the relationship.
“It is a pathetic state of affairs. The governor has gone out to commit many illegalities. Unless we throw the captain out of this ship, the waters will remain turbulent and the ship will sink,” Ms Mati said.
An attempt by deputy president Rigathi Gachagua to resolve the impasse by summoning the MCAs for a meeting failed after various political parties opposed it.
The Speaker is now expected to deliver the resolution on impeachment of Governor Mwangaza to the Speaker of the Senate by Friday.
The Senate will form a committee to look into the grounds of impeachment and listen to both the assembly and the governor before voting upholding or overturning the MCAs’ verdict.