The political feud between Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza and MCAs has been slowed down after the High Court stopped the impeachment motion that was to be debated on Wednesday morning.
While Governor Mwangaza sees an opportunity for a truce and dialogue, MCAs say the court has sent them back to the drawing board to strengthen their accusations for a future impeachment motion.
Speaking separately after the Meru High Court stopped the county assembly from debating the motion, Ms Mwangaza urged MCAs to lay down their arms, while Speaker Ayub Bundi said ward reps could as well prepare another impeachment motion.
Ms Mwangaza led the crowd in saying sorry 70 times representing every member of the county assembly.
A pastor counted down as the governor and residents shouted “sorry”.
While 68 out of 69 MCAs are after her ouster, she said she is apologising to all including the speaker.
Earlier, her husband Murega Baichu had apologised on behalf of the governor urging the clergy to call a unity meeting of all Meru leaders.
Justice Thripsisa Cherere, issuing conservatory orders, said the procedure used by MCAs to process the proposed motion was flawed and could violate the governor’s Constitutional rights.
“It is the singular authority of the court to deal with threatened violations before they happen and to give the appropriate relief, including conservatory orders in terms of Article 23 (3) of the Constitution,” the judge ruled.
“I am guided by the principle that a party, such as an applicant, is not required to suffer illegality or breach of her rights or resultant injustice on the solace that her grievance would be remedied by either the assembly or by the Senate.”
But Justice Cherere also warned that the court would not be used to stop the legislature from carrying out its oversight role by issuing superfluous orders.
“Under the powers donated to this court by Article 23 (3) of the Constitution, it is ordered that the impeachment motion dated November 21, 2022, by MCAs scheduled for debate on November 30, 2022, at 10am is flawed and is quashed,” she said.
Speaking after Speaker Bundi informed the assembly of the court orders, MCAs vowed to resume the impeachment process once a petition filed in court is concluded.
Speaker Bundi said: “We have an obligation to respect the orders of the court as it has already pronounced itself, and the assembly will abide by the orders therein."
He said the motion would proceed once the court battle is over.
MCAs had meticulously prepared for D-Day and were dressed in matching outfits – black suits, white shirts and red ties.
Only Kiagu MCA Simon Kiambi, the lone opponent of the impeachment motion, was not dressed for the day.
Abogeta West MCA and Minority Chief Whip Dennis Kiogora said he had followed due process in developing the impeachment motion.
"The governor can delay the process through the courts but the impeachment has to happen. Even if it takes one month or two months, the governor must go. We are determined to correct the wrongs being done by the governor. Time is on our side," Mr Kiogora said.
Akithii MCA Mwenda Ithili, who is also the minority leader, said the court order did not end the impeachment process.
"Since this is an honourable House, we must obey the court order. However, we will remedy the process and proceed with the impeachment," Mr Ithili said.
Njia MCA Mwenda Ali, who is also the deputy Speaker said: "It is a sad day in Meru but we will correct the issues cited by the court. We will remain steadfast in the resolve to impeach Governor Mwangaza," he said.
Governor expressed her joy
Kiirua/Naari MCA Jennifer Murogocho added: "We have clearly stated our case against the governor and all standing orders have been followed. All is not lost."
Majority Chief Whip Jim Muchui said the court decision had given them a chance to perfect the impeachment motion.
"While my colleagues have said it is a sad day, I am very happy because we will now prepare a better impeachment motion that cannot be challenged by the courts," Mr Muchui said.
But speaking in Maua town during a budget validation forum, the governor expressed her joy following the court reprieve.
The governor also apologised to MCAs for any wrongs she had done, saying this was one of their conditions for agreeing to dialogue.
“I am very happy because of the court ruling today. I thank God and all those who prayed for me. I want to reiterate that my doors are open to the MCAs who wish to work with me. I invite them so that we can work together. Some battles they want to engage in will not help the people of Meru,” she said.
She added that her wish is to ‘rescue the people of Meru from all forms of servitude’.
“Even if I have won in court today, I humbly pray that they come and let us reason together. I also wish to apologise to the MCAs, though I have not done anything wrong. If saying sorry will cure the problems we are facing, I apologise to every member of the county assembly,” Ms Mwangaza said.
She added: “However, I will not break the law in the process of working with the MCAs.”
She said she was committed to transforming the county by enhancing development at the grassroots.
She reiterated that she will uphold accountability and transparency to ensure no public funds are lost.
She expressed confidence that the political feuds will end and she will go on to lead Meru for two terms.
Following the High Court decision, MCAs have three options: appealing, waiting for the conclusion of the petition or drawing a fresh impeachment motion.