Governor Kawira Mwangaza's woes continue with new petition

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza addresses residents

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza addresses residents on November 10, 2023. 

Photo credit: Pool

A petitioner wants the High Court to overturn the Senate's decision to save Governor Kawira Mwangaza from impeachment, saying the Senate failed to consider all the evidence presented in the motion.

The governor survived the second impeachment attempt on Wednesday last week after senators dismissed all seven charges on which the MCAs based the 25 October impeachment, saying they were not substantiated.

Ms Mwangaza was accused of misappropriation of funds, nepotism, contempt of court, illegal appointments, illegally naming a road after her husband Murega Baichu, contempt of assembly and defaming elected leaders.

Her first impeachment attempt was thwarted by the Senate in December last year after an 11-member committee chaired by Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale cleared her of all 62 charges.

Now, Mr Michael Kibutha (alias Makarena) says Senate Speaker Amason Kingi allowed the debate and vote to proceed on an unpublished day when the published dates for the hearing were 7 and 8 November 2023 and wants the High Court to set aside the decision.

The Speaker, Ms Mwangaza, the Attorney General and the Meru County Assembly are named as respondents in the case.

The petitioner is seeking a declaration that the failure to complete the debate on the gazetted days renders the subsequent proceedings constitutionally invalid.

Mr Makarena also wants the court to declare that the grounds of impeachment presented by the provincial assembly have reached the threshold.

"The petitioner contends that the 5th respondent failed to evaluate the evidence adduced by the 1st respondent in accordance with the principles laid down by the Court of Appeal in the case of Martin Wambora & three others Speaker of the Senate & six others," Mr Makarena said in an affidavit.

The petition was filed on the same day that a group of residents petitioned the Meru County Assembly to impeach 12 executive members of Governor Kawira Mwangaza's government for violating various laws.

The petition by 22 residents comes just a week after the governor survived a second impeachment attempt on 8 November after the Senate dismissed all seven charges against her.

On October 25, 59 out of 69 members of the county assembly voted to remove her from office.

The petition, supported by 1,611 other residents who added their signatures, accuses eight members of the executive committee, three chief executives and the chief of staff, Mr Nchamba Mbithi, of various offences against the constitution and the County Government Act.

The CECs are Dr Kiambi Athiru (Health), Ms Monica Kathono (Finance), Mr Dickson Munene (Legal and Public Service), Mr Jackson Muthamia (Water), Mr Thuranira Ithana (Agriculture), Ms Harriet Makena (Commerce) and Mr Ibrahim Mutwiri (Roads).

In addition to the CECs, the residents also want Chief Officers James Mutia (Cooperatives), Victor Akwalu (Agriculture) and Joyce Kagwiria (Education) to be sent home.

"On November 7 and 8, 2023, during the Senate hearing of the impeachment motion to remove Governor Mwangaza from office, she consistently defended the allegations against her and blamed all constitutional and statutory violations on her junior officers and appointees in the executive," the petition reads.

The petition was received by the Clerk of the County Assembly on November 15, 2023 and the House Business Committee will place it on the Order Paper.

The Speaker will then present it to the House on behalf of the petitioners and later refer it to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC).

If the House finds that the petition has merit, a member of the JLAC committee will prepare a motion of impeachment and announce it to the House.

The Speaker will then appoint a five-member committee to investigate the allegations within 10 days, and the committee will summon the CECs and Chief Officers to defend themselves.

The report will be presented to the House, debated and a vote taken, with one-third or 23 of the 69 members required to impeach the officers.