Kawira impeachment a fight against gender equality, says Wanga

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza and her lawyers Elisha Ongoya (standing) and Elias Mutuma (back, right) in the Senate on November 7, 2023.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Meru MCAs have twice impeached their governor on claims of gross misconduct and misuse of public funds.
  • Mwangaza was first impeached in December 2022, but an 11-member Senate Special Committee submitted a report dismissing the charges.

Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga has defended her Meru counterpart Kawira Mwangaza, saying attempts to remove her from office will erase the gains made in ensuring women win top leadership positions.

Ms Wanga dismissed attempts to oust the governor as a fight against gender equality.

Meru MCAs have twice impeached the governor over gross misconduct and misuse of public funds, among other allegations. She was first impeached in December 2022, but an 11-member Senate Special Committee appointed to probe the grounds for her impeachment submitted a report dismissing the charges.

The Court of Appeal in Nyeri last week dismissed Ms Mwangazi’s petition after she was impeached for a second time. Her fate now lies with the Senate, which is currently presiding over her impeachment trial.

Role models

Ms Wanga said female leaders, especially governors, have been championing to have more women ascend to political leadership. “I want to be a role model to up-and-coming politicians so that they can pursue their dreams and take over leadership after us. I think my colleague, Mwangaza, should not be removed from office.”

Kenya has seven female governors, with each making political history in their regions. Ms Wanga, for example, is the first woman governor in Nyanza. The others are Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Cecily Mbarire (Embu), Wavinya Ndeti (Machakos), Fatuma Achani (Kwale) and Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga).

This is still below the two thirds gender rule as the other 40 counties are governed by men.

Speaking exclusively to Nation.Africa, Ms Wanga called for changes in the rules for ousting county chiefs. She argued that governors are elected by thousands of voters but can be removed from office by a few MCAs and senators.

“There should be a new threshold for removal of governors from office. A few people cannot decide someone's fate when thousands voted for them," she said.

She termed it too early to impeach Ms Mwangaza. "Her first impeachment happened a few months after the election. By then no one could gauge whether she could perform or not.”

Ms Wanga said there should be justifiable impeachment grounds. Ms Mwangaza was listed as one of the top-performing county chiefs by a recent poll conducted by research firm Infotrak.  

"This is pure politics. Maybe someone thought she could not win and is now trying to push her out of office by all means," Ms Wanga said.

She said she will continue supporting her colleague and promote women’s rise to top leadership positions.