Lack of numbers numb Wiper MCAs quest to impeach Ngilu

Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The push for Ngilu ouster was mainly driven by the Mwingi side with Kitui Wiper MCAs being the mouthpieces.
  • In public, the proponent of the motion would chest thump that they have secured support of 40 MCAs out of 54, enough to impeach Ms Ngilu.
  • But privately they were making frantic efforts to sustain the motion which was falling apart.

The details of the failure by the Kitui County Assembly’s to marshall enough numbers to impeach Governor Charity Ngilu can now be revealed. And this has kicked off a vicious blame game within the party hierarchy.

A few days after the impeachment motion was filed at the assembly, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka attended a meeting in Mwingi town.

To a casual observer it was just like the many trips he makes to his home town until the media was requested not to cover the event where he handed over donations to artists from the area.

Interestingly during this meeting, a handful of Wiper MCAs drawn from Mwingi area were present while those from Kitui area were absent. The politics in Kitui County is largely polarized between two regions-Kitui and Mwingi.

The push for Ngilu ouster was mainly driven by the Mwingi side with Kitui Wiper MCAs being the mouthpieces.

In public, the proponent of the motion would chest thump that they have secured support of 40 MCAs out of 54, enough to impeach Ms Ngilu.

But privately they were making frantic efforts to sustain the motion which was falling apart. The situation was so dire that top party officials were making calls to people outside the house to fact check if indeed their leadership had marshalled enough numbers.

By the time Governor Ngilu served the assembly with the court order, the numbers were not looking favourable to Wiper backed motion, but no one could actually tell the fate since no strategy has been put in place to lobby, track and secure the numbers.

Speaker George Ndotto and majority Leader Peter Kilonzo were to lead the bid. But Majority Leader is an elected member from Athi Ward in Kitui where Governor Ngilu commands huge following.

Given the sensitivity of the matter, most assembly members, especially those from Kitui region, avoided to speak on record on the impending impeachment attempt.

As at Saturday morning, they were ready to push ahead with the impeachment and 40 rooms were booked in a top Kitui hotel to host the members ready for Monday morning assignment.

The threshold of the two third requirement is 36. Reality hit when only 22 MCAs checked into the hotel and by Sunday morning most of the members they were depending on could neither be reached on phone nor were they answering their calls.

It’s at this point the next plan was hatched: To hold a press conference and declare the motion suspended in obedience of the court order.

But in the house, the matter remained alive. It was on the motion paper and the summons issued to the Governor were not withdrawn. The plan was to lure more members to the house to push through the impeachment.

On Monday morning, only 26 MCAs arrived in the house and among them were five members who are opposed to impeachment. The pressure was too high that the Speaker, infuriated by the turn of events uncharacteristically ordered Governor Ngilu’s lawyers to be chased from the assembly.

This action has triggered a public outrage and condemnation from many quarters including the Law Society of Kenya.

The background of the bad blood between Governor Charity Ngilu and Mr Musyoka is a historical rivalry that dates back to 1992 when a little known young political upstart embarrassed the then doyen and Kanu Minister George Ndotto.

Mr Ndotto, the current speaker of the assembly, would spend the next 20 years trying to unseat Mrs Ngilu. The Wiper leader on his part was already a popular face in the ruling party and his bid to woo Ngilu to join Kanu spectacularly failed.

Mrs Ngilu would defy odds and vie for presidency in 1997 tilting the politics in the Ukambani region to the consternation of Mr Musyoka and his handlers led by the late Mulu Mutisya. This marked the start of a long political rivalry and supremacy battles between the two.

In 2015, when President Kenyatta fired her from the cabinet many thought Ngilu’s long political career was over. She bounced back in 2017 getting elected as a Governor, flooring then Senator David Musila and Wiper candidate and sitting Governor Julius Malombe.

During Governor Ngilu’s inauguration, where Mr Musyoka was the surprise guest, he reminded her that he (his party) holds majority in the house and she had to work with him. This was a clear message that Mrs Ngilu would have a rough time in the County Assembly.

True to form, for the next three years the Assembly would constantly shoot down her budget and most of her nominees for County positions. Indeed following up to even impeach three of her County Executive Committee Members.

Therefore it was matter of when not if Wiper would attempt to remove Mrs Ngilu from office.