Kawira Mwangaza: I’m ready for dissolution of Meru County government

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

After flooring her opponents in an impeachment move, all is not well in Meru County after it emerged that MCAs were plotting to paralyse the county government.

But Governor Kawira Mwangaza says she will not be intimidated by an attempt to impeach eight CECs, three chief officers and the chief of staff in a bid to create an 'emergency' that would lead to their suspension.

The governor said she had received several delegations of people who wanted to collect signatures and push for the suspension of the county, adding that the exercise would begin on Monday.

Article 192 of the Constitution states that a county can be suspended in a state of emergency or "in other exceptional circumstances" if the President is satisfied that such action is warranted. 

This involves an investigation by a commission of inquiry, which makes recommendations to the President, who, if he decides to suspend, the county holds elections after 90 days.

A petition to the President must be supported by at least 10 per cent of registered voters, and with 780,000 voters in Meru County, the petition would need to be supported by 78,000 residents.

Ms Mwangaza said after the second impeachment attempt failed, she had received delegations and individuals asking her to ask President William Ruto to suspend the county. 

"People from non-governmental organisations and individuals came to me with the request. But I told them that first we will continue negotiations with the ward representatives and come to an agreement on how we will work," the governor said in an interview with Muuga FM on Thursday.

"But if the issues are not resolved, I will support them in the initiative to suspend the county," she added.

The governor said she had worked "very hard under difficult circumstances" to achieve development, which saw her ranked in the top 10 in a recent InfoTrak survey.

"I have worked tirelessly under great pressure and I don't think any other leader in Kenya has had such an experience. I am confident that if we go back to the polls, the people of Meru will re-elect me because they know I will serve them," said Ms Mwangaza.

The governor was speaking as it became clear that her administration was in danger of being paralysed after 22 residents petitioned the county assembly to initiate impeachment proceedings against 12 executives.

The petition details how the officers allegedly abdicated their duties, accusing them of violating various sections of the constitution and the County Government Act.

The petitioners also want 35 of the 38 acting directors to return to their original roles, saying some of them were not qualified to act in those capacities.

The officials cited for misconduct include those in charge of critical portfolios such as health, finance, agriculture, commerce, roads and the civil service.

If the Assembly finds merit in the petition, it will initiate impeachment proceedings against eight members of the executive, three principal officers and the chief of staff, Nchamba Mbithi.

This means the governor will be forced to go back to the drawing board and recommend new officers to be vetted by a hostile assembly that has twice tried to send her home.

The CECs the residents say should be sacked are Dr Kiambi Athiru (County Secretary), Ms Monica Kathono (Finance), Mr Dickson Munene (Legal Affairs and Public Service), Mr Jackson Muthamia (Water), Mr Thuranira Ithana (Agriculture), Ms Harriet Makena (Commerce), Dr George Mungania (Health) and Mr Ibrahim Mutwiri (Roads).

They also want chief executives James Mutia (Cooperatives), Victor Akwalu (Agriculture) and Joyce Kagwiria (Education) to be sent home.

"During the impeachment proceedings, the Governor has consistently defended herself against the allegations levelled against her and blamed all violations of the Constitution and laws on her junior officers and appointees in the executive," reads part of the petition, which is supported by 1611 residents from all 45 wards who have attached their signatures.

Dr Athiru is accused of usurping the powers of the Public Service Commission and mismanaging the civil service by making unprocedural appointments and demotions.

One of the allegations against Ms Mwangaza in the impeachment motion was that she usurped the powers of the PSB, which she denied and blamed on the district secretary.

Other allegations against her officials include mismanagement of Sh49 million in the construction of a dam in Kibirichia Ward, Buuri Constituency, launching the Sh50 million One Cow, One Needy Family programme without a policy framework and unprocedural distribution of group funds, among others.