MCA: Why I am the only one opposing Governor Kawira Mwangaza’s ouster

Only MCA on Governor Mwangaza side

Kiagu MCA Simon Kiambi, the lone ward representative opposing the impeachment of Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza, has trashed the motion as a political witch-hunt and a waste of public resources.

Mr Kiambi, who has accused his colleagues of coercing him to append his signature to the motion, says ward reps were not given time to study the grounds for ‘crucifying’ the governor.

Speaking to Nation.Africa, he claimed that some of his colleagues were also willing to back down but were threatened with removal from committees and other consequences.

He said he was also under pressure from voters to stand by the governor amid opposition from other politicians.

“When we went to Nairobi last week to deliberate on the impeachment motion, I raised my concerns but was kicked out of the room. Mr Dennis Kiogora, the sponsor of the motion, read it to us," he said

"We wanted a lawyer to take us through the grounds to ensure they are sound but it was not done. I was later called into the room and asked to sign the motion but I refused.”

He accused some MCAs of attacking him with blows and kicks when he stood his ground.

Abogeta Mca

Abogeta West MCA and minority chief whip Dennis Kiogora tables impeachment motion against Meru governor Kawira Mwangaza on November 22, 2022. 

Photo credit: David Muchui I Nation Media Group

He argued that claims of nepotism and irregular employment are flimsy because there was no appointment letter given to the governor’s husband, Murega Baichu, when she picked him as the patron of the Meru Youth Service and ‘hustlers’ ambassador'.

“Where is the pay slip or the appointment letter? Some of the directors listed in the motion were duly employed by the County Public Service Board. Are there appointment letters for those said to be hired through roadside declarations?” he posed.

Mr Kiambi claimed that he had been removed from assembly committees and WhatsApp groups and was now waiting for official removal.

“Many MCAs are being intimidated with threats that they will be removed from committees. This is why they had to sign,” he said.

He said he made his decision after conducting public participation forums, where the people resolved that the governor is right.

“I am employed by the people of Kiagu and I do what they instruct me [to do]. I will not bow down to political pressure, because it is the electorate who have the power to fire me,” he said.

He said he was working closely with the governor and would be joining her in launching various development projects this week.

“I promised my people some boreholes and the governor is delivering [them]. Other MCAs should follow suit and work with the governor in their wards. She is very ready to work with all leaders,” he said.

Kawira impeachment motion Meru assembly

Members of Meru County Assembly follow proceedings during the tabling of impeachment motion against Governor Kawira Mwangaza on November 22, 2022.

Photo credit: David Muchui I Nation Media Group

Even if the assembly approves the impeachment, he argues, the Senate would reject it.

The process of impeaching Ms Mwangaza officially started on Tuesday, her 90th day in office, and she is expected to know her fate in the next 10 days.

This is after Mr Kiogora, the Abogeta West MCA and minority chief whip, on Tuesday morning gave the notice of motion in a sitting attended by more than 60 MCAs.

According to the assembly standing orders, once a seven-day notice expires, the impeachment motion is moved and seconded, and should be disposed of within three days.

This means Ms Mwangaza will know her fate starting on Tuesday next week. The assembly’s normal sittings happen on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But the motion cannot be moved on the floor of the House unless it is supported by at least a third of members. Once a member appends their signature, it cannot be withdrawn.

If the motion is passed, Speaker Ayub Bundi is required to inform the Speaker of the Senate about the resolution within two days.

In the proposed motion, Mr Kiogora wants Governor Mwangaza removed from office for gross violation of the Constitution, gross violation of various national and county laws, abuse of office and gross misconduct.

Of the assembly’s 69 members, only Mr Kiambi opposed the planned impeachment.

Kawira Mwangaza Mpuru

Tigania East MP Mpuru Aburi hugs Governor Kawira Mwangaza during her inauguration on August 25, 2022. 

Photo credit: David Muchui I Nation Media Group

The assembly has called for public participation on Monday next week at a forum to be led by House leaders.

Residents can also present their submissions via email to the acting clerk of the assembly.

Governor Mwangaza, who has been served with the proposed motion, is expected to present her defence to the assembly next Tuesday.

But reacting to the planned impeachment on Tuesday, she accused MCAs of intimidating her because she refused to allocate money to a ward fund.

"We were advised by the Controller of Budget that the fund is illegal and I cannot continue allocating [money to it]. It doesn't matter how much noise they make, I will not be intimated," she said.

She said she was not going anywhere and wondered why MCAs were fighting her.

“They are reading papers at the assembly thinking we will look for them. Never! I will not be distracted but will focus on development," she added.

The governor faces impeachment for appointing her husband to county offices, for roadside appointment of county staff, illegal dismissals, contempt of court, humiliation of the minority leader, and vilifying the minority chief whip, Meru Senator Kathuri Murungi, Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi, Tigania East MP Mpuru Aburi and the Catholic Church.

Other accusations are forceful entry into the assembly, mobilisation of riots against MCAs, violation of public finance management laws and alleged misconduct relating to the nomination of members of the County Executive Committee (CEC).

Mr Kiogora accuses Governor Mwangaza of flouting 10 national and county laws, including the Public Officers Ethics Act, County Governments Act, Meru Youth Service Act, Public Appointments (County Assemblies Approval) Act, and Fair Administrative Actions Act.

Meru Mcas

From Left Meru's Timau MCA Martin Kimathi, Patrick Mutuma (Kisima) Jacob Mwirigi (Kibirichia), Jeniffer Murogocho (Kiirua/Naari) and Felix Kithinji (Ruiri/Rwarera) during a press conference on November 21, 2022. The MCAs have accused the governor of flouting the county public participation through her recent grassroots forums.

Photo credit: David Muchui I Nation Media Group

Other laws that she allegedly violated are the Employment Act, Leadership and Integrity Act, County Assemblies Powers and Privileges Act, Public Finance Management Act and Meru County Retention and Enhancement Fund Act. 

"The governor has engaged in multiple discreditable acts ... The discreditable acts have exposed the office of the governor, the assembly and its leadership and the people of Meru County to national shame, embarrassment, ridicule and disrepute," Mr Kiogora states. 

The minority whip argues that the actions of the governor have created a toxic environment "in which the governor cannot be relied upon to work harmoniously with staff and elected leaders".

Governor Mwangaza is accused of appointing her husband as patron of the Meru Youth Service and to the non-existent position of ‘hustlers’ ambassador’ without following the law.

Mr Kiogora also faulted the appointment of County Secretary Rufus Miriti, who also served under former governor Kiraitu Murungi in the same position.

The governor is also accused of appointing five unqualified persons to county offices without a transparent recruitment process.

She is also under scrutiny for making roadside appointments of workers in violation of the Constitution and the County Governments Act.

She is also accused of directing ward and sub-county administrators to usurp the functions and mandate of the County Public Service Board.

The motion also cites illegal dismissal of four heads of autonomous county bodies before the end of their contract.

The governor also faces allegations of falsely accusing MCAs of corruption, greed, blackmail and operating like a cartel.

Her spat with the Catholic Church, where she claimed it had irregularly acquired Meru Youth Service Training Centre land, is also cited in the motion.

Kawira Mwangaza

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza during a public participation forum at Nkubu town.

Photo credit: David Muchui I Nation Media Group

The governor is also in trouble for “inciting” the public against Senator Murungi and CS Linturi and “falsely accusing them of demanding a share of the county government appointments”.

On Mr Aburi, the governor is in trouble for "falsely accusing the MP of demanding that his wife be appointed [to] the executive and pre-qualification of 12 companies for county tenders as well as presentation of fake pending bills". 

Governor Mwangaza’s failed address to the assembly last month has also been dragged into the motion, which accuses her of forceful entry and organising violent demonstrations against MCAs.

Other grounds include violation of the Public Finance Management Act because she directed Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital to spend the money it earns at the source and waive medical bills.

Ms Mwangaza is also accused of “directing county government officers to advance the interests of Baite TV, a media station owned by her relatives".

Also cited in the motion is the governor’s recent move to reorganise the government after only three of her CEC nominees were approved by MCAs.

The governor was served with the motion and is expected to appear before the assembly to defend herself.