Governor Kawira Mwangaza in 'handshake' with Kiraitu men
Speculation is rife that two key allies of former Governor Kiraitu Murungi might join Meru county boss Kawira Mwangaza’s administration after they mended fences.
Mr Gideon Kimathi and Mr Victor Kariithi on Tuesday and Wednesday “shook hands” with Ms Mwangaza, signaling a possible end of hostilities against the governor that saw members of the county assembly impeach her on December 14.
The Senate, however, dismissed all 62 grounds on which the Abogeta West MCA Dennis Kiogora’s motion was premised, with the committee led by Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale saying none of the accusations was substantiated.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has since set in motion negotiations between Ms Mwangaza and the MCAs in an attempt to quell the animosity, with a meeting planned for mid-this month, according to majority leader Evans Mawira (Mitunguu Ward).
With several positions still vacant, Ms Mwangaza has room to appoint more officers in her government and stamp her authority. While the assembly rejected seven of her 10 nominees for the executive committee members (CECs) prompting her to collapse departments, there are several chief officer positions that are yet to be filled.
Sources have indicated that with the expiry of County Secretary Rufus Miriti’s contract, Mr Kariithi, who hails from Tigania West, is likely to take over the position.
While Mr Kimathi, who was Mr Murungi’s chief of staff contested Imenti South parliamentary seat and lost to Dr Shadrack Mwiti, Mr Kariithi, a former majority leader, was defeated by Mr Jim Muchui in the Athwana ward seat contest.
The two men vied on Mr Murungi’s Devolution Empowerment Party, popularly known by its bus symbol, and with their support for Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition, they, alongside their boss became casualties of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party’s dominance in Mt Kenya region.
In an interview with Nation, the two said their decisions were “personal” and noted that while Mr Murungi had retired from active politics, they were still young, with a long political journey that needed nurturing.
“Kiraitu has officially retired from politics and since I am experienced as a politician and technocrat, I feel that I should support the government of the day so that Meru can move forward,” said Mr Kimathi, a former councilor, and deputy speaker in the first assembly.
But while Mr Kimathi was guarded over whether he would join Ms Mwangaza’s government if asked to, Mr Kariithi said: “I would have no problem working closely with her if it will be for the benefit of the people of Meru.”
“The fact is that Kiraitu has retired and we have a responsibility to support the current government because we can only have one governor at a time. I would absolutely have no problem working with her,” Mr Kariithi said in a phone interview.
Speaking for the first time three weeks ago about Ms Mwangaza’s victory, Mr Murungi said “everybody accepts that Kawira won” and asked both parties to put aside their egos and work together for the benefit of the people of Meru.
He suggested that “the Gachagua-led process could consider a Government of Meru Unity under governor Mwangaza.”
However, MCAs have dismissed Ms Mwangaza’s “overtures” on former allies of Mr Murungi, saying her intention is to weaken negotiations that were yet to be completed.
Mr Kiogora said of particular concern was that some nominated MCAs were warming up to the governor, saying it was undermining their negotiations with the Executive.
“We have no problem with those who lost in the August 9 election because they have the prerogative to chart their own political path. But for a serving MCA who supported the impeachment motion, that is unacceptable,” Mr Kiogora said.
Mr Mawira said the governor was free to negotiate with anybody as she seeks ways of uniting leaders across the board, but insisted that they would still pursue dialogue so that the assembly could have ‘a working relationship’ with the Executive.
“In politics, there are no permanent enemies or friends. So long as the people will get services, we have no problem with the governor working with officials from the former regime. But we have to pursue our agenda because the assembly and the executive have to function in a prescribed manner,” he said.