During her swearing in on August 25, Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza’s husband Murega Baichu was on her side and as she took oath of office, he held the Constitution for her.
Two days later, he posted photos on his Twitter account and wrote: “Governor Kawira Mwangaza held her Bible on the right hand while I Murega Baichu placed my left hand on the Constitution and she took oath as required by the law. Kando yake sibanduki!! itawabidi mahasidi kuzoea!! (I will always be on her side! Detractors will have to get used.”
True to his word, Mr Baichu who is an artiste, has remained on her side with his guitar, accompanying the governor to most official functions and posting photos on social media.
On September 9, Mr Baichu represented the governor in a graduation ceremony for 100 HIV- positive mothers who had undergone a follow up medical programme on prevention of mother to child infection, where he read her speech.
“Meru county government led by H.E Kawira Mwangaza is committed to working with all the partners and stakeholders to strengthen sustainability and continuation of the program,” he said on Facebook.
This has drawn mixed reactions with concerned Kenyans questioning his role in the county government and setting Twitter and Facebook on fire.
A section of Meru residents castigated the couple saying they should separate family from county affairs.
“Where the county is going I cannot tell,” wrote Mwenda ‘Divers.’ “The drama is too much. What is the relationship between the family and county affairs? If the two will not be kept distinct then we are on the wrong direction. Minimize drama and too much talk.”
Moses Kimathi said: “Murega, we are married and we don’t follow our wives to their places of work…give governor space without being noticed, we have other women governors do we know their spouses?”
Mr Baichu also dons a fedora hat which drew this comment form an online user: “People of Meru you had the right choice (and) I love how your governor with her husband are working for the betterment of Meru. My worry is, why does Murega wear the fedora hat in executive meetings? Don't we have a code of dress?
During campaigns, the couple was inseparable with Mr Baichu acting as the emcee while Ms Mwangaza would address the crowd.
When the criticism reached climax, Ms Mwangaza stormed outgoing Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya’s backyard at Muthara market in Tigania East on September 14 and wondered why she was being “separated” from her husband.
She said during campaigns Mr Baichu was always on her side, pointing out that the musician contributed about 50 per cent of her victory since he worked up the crowds with his songs loaded with political messages before she came in to sell her campaign agenda.
“I have been in the grassroots for more than seven years and my husband was on my side, helping me but they want to chase him away now that we have won, is that possible?” she posed.
Mr Baichu then took to the stage and accused “some people who never wanted to see me with Kawira” starting a smear campaign against them while others criticized them online.
“They say I should not accompany her. As the people of Meru do you want me to be on her side with my guitar?” he asked, and received a thunderous applause in the affirmative.
Speaking to Nation in a phone interview Thursday, Mr Baichu told off those opposed to him attending meetings, and asked them to state the section of the Constitution that bars him from accompanying the governor. He vowed to stay put, saying he will not cow to intimidation.
“I know my limits and will stick to them. I cannot attend cabinet meetings or those that comprise officially gazetted members and the forums I go to are open to the public,” he said, and accused those opposed to him of plotting to destabilise the governor because they were aware of the crucial role he played in her victory.
“I am aware that those attacking me are the same ones who wanted a nusu mkate (coalition government) from the governor and they started the scheme after I exposed them,” he added.
Mr Baichu said former governor Kiraitu Murungi used to be accompanied by his wife Priscilla who also ran county government funded projects including Twaweza, a women’s empowerment programme.
He pointed out that when he represented the governor during the graduation of the HIV –positive mothers, he did so because the programme is one of the projects he is spearheading as the first gentleman. “What has changed now that Murega is the husband to the governor? They will not intimidate me,” he said.
Over the past month after she took over, Ms Mwangaza has also attracted criticism from journalists after failing to invite them to functions, preferring to conduct media briefings on Friday.
The press conference in which director of communications and spokesperson Mr Hillary Mutuma briefs journalists on the governor’s activities of the week is broadcast live on Ms Mwanga’z Baite TV station.
However, lately after the outcry the governor has started inviting journalists through her communication team.