Governor Mwangaza: Why I can't set foot in Igembe

Governor Kawira Mwangaza

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza before the Senate Committee on Public Investment and Special Funds at KICC, Nairobi County on July 5, 2023.

Photo credit: File| Nation Media Group

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza has revealed that she has kept off the Igembe region for the last three months due to 'threats on her life'.

Addressing residents of Igembe region who marched to her office to demand her visit, governor Mwangaza said she avoided the area after she was heckled and hunted down by goons during President William Ruto’s visit in January.

Igembe region, which comprises over a third of the county’s population, is the backyard of Deputy Governor Isaac Mutuma, who fell out with the governor last year.

“I was first attacked last year while donating a cow in Maua. I escaped the rowdy mob by the grace of God. When I accompanied the president to Igembe, I was heckled. My vehicle was ransacked by goons who were baying for my blood.”

“Luckily, I had left for the next stop in the president’s chopper. My driver was in fear throughout the president’s tour in Igembe. Due to these incidents, I could not visit Igembe because of my safety,” Ms Mwangaza recounted.

During President Ruto’s three-day tour of the county that kicked off on January 26, Governor Mwangaza was shouted down at Muringene in Igembe Central and kept off subsequent meetings due to political animosity.

She sensationally accused Igembe Central MP Dan Kiili and agriculture CS Mithika Linturi of hiring youths to heckle her before the president. Mr Kiili has since denied the allegation.

Ms Mwangaza said her political opponents had also tried to implicate her in the murder of blogger Daniel Muthiani, making the area hostile for her.

In September last year, a cow donated by the Meru governor at Maua was slaughtered by rowdy youth over her political differences with the deputy governor.

The Meru governor blamed her predicament on ‘greedy politicians’ who were against her stance on fighting corrupt dealings.

“All the battles I have encountered are because I defend our resources against corrupt individuals. I vowed never to allow anyone to misuse public resources,” she said.

She called on politicians including her deputy and members of county assembly to tone down the politics to allow her to deliver on her mandate.

“Despite all the negative politics I have encountered, I have not sidelined the people of Igembe. Development projects are going on in the area but I could not come there. However, this visit paves way for my development tour of the region,” Ms Mwangaza said.

Mr Francis Kaberia, one of the residents of Igembe, said the attacks against the governor were organised by a few individuals opposed to her.

“We condemn those who heckled the governor and slaughtered a cow at her meeting. As residents of Igembe, we will support the governor in delivering on her mandate. She should not be intimidated,” Mr Kaberia said.

They accused the political opponents of the governor of balkanising the county and blaming it on the county boss.

The governor’s revelation comes a week after Njuri Ncheke Council of Elders announced a dialogue meeting with religious leaders to look into the highly polarised political environment in Meru County.

Njuri Ncheke secretary general Josphat Murangiri said the elders were concerned by heightening political acrimony that has also permeated into the society.

“We have been watching from a distance and realised that the political situation is worsening by the day. We will meet religious leaders in a weeks’ time to seek a solution to the disunity in Meru County,” Mr Murangiri said.

Njuri Ncheke chairman Linus Kathera said the local politics were highly polarized with MPs, MCAs and the governor in different camps.

“We have resolved that this political acrimony must come to an end. Even where there are political differences, they should not work against the interests of the people,” Mr Kathera said.

Last month Moses Lichoro, a vocal supporter of the governor from Igembe Central, lost his home and businesses valued at more than Sh50 million in an arson attack said to be politically instigated.