Besieged Waiguru lobbies Raila to help save her job in Senate
What you need to know:
- The two met on Thursday evening in efforts to help save her job, which is hanging by a thread after she was impeached by the county assembly last week and failed in her bid to block the move in court.
- The Senate will now have the final say on the matter, amid intense lobbying said to be taking place.
- Mr Odinga met Ms Waiguru at an exclusive club in Karen, Nairobi, alongside a few aides, with the key agenda being whipping ODM and other “friendly” senators to defeat the motion, according to a source who spoke in confidence.
Embattled Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru has sought the support of ODM leader Raila Odinga to fend off the impeachment threat in the Senate this week, the Sunday Nation can reveal.
The two met on Thursday evening in efforts to help save her job, which is hanging by a thread after she was impeached by the county assembly last week and failed in her bid to block the move in court.
The Senate will now have the final say on the matter, amid intense lobbying said to be taking place.
Mr Odinga met Ms Waiguru at an exclusive club in Karen, Nairobi, alongside a few aides, with the key agenda being whipping ODM and other “friendly” senators to defeat the motion, according to a source who spoke in confidence.
Ms Waiguru walked in a few minutes to 7pm accompanied by two aides. Then Kiambu Governor James Nyoro and his Nyeri counterpart Mutahi Kahiga joined her before Mr Odinga and a few of his trusted MPs arrived.
During the meeting, it was revealed the Kirinyaga governor had also reached out to her Jubilee Party and influential individuals in government for support this week. The meeting with the former prime minister was to boost her survival chances.
The meeting, said our source, who took part in its organisation, ended shortly after 9pm and also featured a former MCA in Nairobi County, only identified as Mr Kamau.
“It’s not rocket science what the meeting was about. She wants to be saved at the Senate,” said the source. “He (Odinga) was with his usual close allies, and I don’t need to name names.”
Ms Waiguru reportedly told Mr Odinga that things were already promising from the Kieleweke wing of Jubilee in the Senate and all she needed was his help with the ODM side.
State House has not publicly spoken about the matter, but the chest-thumping by leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto, such as Kirinyaga Woman Representative Purity Ngirici, appears to have set in motion steps to save Ms Waiguru.
“Mama (Waiguru) has lots of enemies, including in high places…there are those that do not mind if she goes home. However, framing the war as being Tangatanga versus Kieleweke by Ms Ngirici was not wise,” said a senior Jubilee official.
“Ms Ngirici made a major blunder. She attacked the Senate chief whip, who is seen as President Kenyatta’s point man in Central. That made the President to look at the impeachment differently. There are instructions to Jubilee senators to rally behind the chief whip,” said another source.
At the local level, the governor blames Interior PS Karanja Kibicho for her tribulations, but her critics say she has grown increasingly unpopular and has fallen out with many allies.
The Handshake politics is also working in favour of Ms Waiguru, who represented the Mt Kenya region in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) rallies before Covid-19 “stopped reggae”.
Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli, a close ally of Mr Odinga, Saturday asked the Senate to spare Ms Waiguru.
“The MCAs took part in a lynch mob. This is politics that should not be allowed to cost her the seat. If they are honest about the case of imprest, why not surcharge her? The Senate must not allow this injustice to pass,” he said.
Contacted for comment, Governor Nyoro did not deny there was such a meeting but referred us to the former prime minister.
“I have had a meeting with Raila Odinga, I can’t disclose when and where,” Dr Nyoro said yesterday.
Mr Kahiga denied being present, claiming he last met Mr Odinga during the Meru BBI rally.
Mr Odinga’s spokesman Denis Onyango said, “I don’t know about the meeting.”
But multiple sources, some from ODM, confirmed to the Sunday Nation that the besieged governor sought Mr Odinga’s help to rally his troops to shoot down the impeachment motion when it comes to the floor of the House.
Other sources also told us that with a looming referendum and the BBI report, Ms Waiguru is needed, although she has made enemies, even in high places. She is thus being saved “for the overall good of the prevailing political alignment, not necessarily because she deserves it,” one source said.
Ms Waiguru declined our request for an interview.
The saying that there are no permanent friends or enemies, only interests, in politics cannot be truer in the case of Mr Odinga and Ms Waiguru. The two were always at loggerheads during Mr Kenyatta’s first term in office and it is the pressure from the ODM leader that eventually saw her resign as Devolution Cabinet secretary amid the National Youth Service corruption scandal storm.
In Mt Kenya, Ms Ngirici is known as a Ruto ally, hence her statements may be construed to represent the DP’s thinking.
Since Mr Ruto has fallen out with the President politically, his allies in the region have been under scrutiny.
Ms Ngirici has accused Mr Odinga of trying to “redeem politicians who are corrupt beyond repair”.
“The prime minister must know that Capitol Hill (his private offices in Upper hill, Nairobi) will not be the capital of corruption. Raila has fought for democracy in this country and should not agree to be used. We are taxpaying Kenyans and we want justice,” she said.
Yesterday, her husband Andrew Ngirici was questioned for two hours by the police in Kirinyaga on accusations of planning anti-Waiguru demonstrations.
Ms Ngirici has demanded that the whole House rather than a committee vote on the Waiguru matter. Senate Majority Chief Whip Irungu Kang’ata said the ultimate decision on whether the case will be handled by the 11-member committee or all senators will be made by the House.
“It is the House that makes the decision and whatever decision will be rendered on Tuesday will ensure justice for the governor of Kirinyaga and the MCAs who initiated the impeachment process,” Mr Kang’ata said.
He, however, pointed out that the difference between Ms Waiguru’s case and that of former Kiambu governor Ferdinand Waititu is that by the time Mr Waititu's motion was being tabledin the Senate, the EACC had already investigated and recommended to the Director of Public Prosecutions to proceed with the court case while in Ms Waiguru’s case the EACC has not given such a recommendation.
“Mr Waititu had already been barred from accessing his office after the plea, Anne Waiguru is still in office and discharging her duties as the governor of Kirinyaga County,” Mr Kang’ata said.
House of integrity
He said the Senate recommended a full plenary discussion on Mr Waititu’s case because the evidence tabled was from the county assembly, reports from EACC and charges from the DPP, while in Ms Waiguru's case, it would be prudent to have a Senate committee review the documents produced by the county assembly.
Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka said: “I want to assure Kenyans that Senate is a House of integrity and shall serve justice to both the assembly and the governor without fear or favour.”
Signs that the governor could survive were at play when the influential Senate Business Committee, which schedules the business of the House, recommended a committee to deal with her case.
Sources on the committee, which is chaired by Speaker Lusaka, say Senator Kang’ata lobbied hard, even though the feeling in the meeting was that the plenary route be adopted. But the whip managed to win over the members to adopt the committee as the viable option. But senators will have their say on this.
If they have surmounted the first hurdle, the second is likely to be even more challenging when the motion to adopt the committee is finally tabled in the House on Tuesday.
The House has taken the plenary route in at least three cases in the past: the late former Nyeri governor Nderitu Gachagua, Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria and Mr Waititu.
There has been a feeling that the plenary is the better option in these impeachments because the large number of lawmakers is hard to corrupt and thus guarantees a fair process.
With the committee route already secured, the challenge now is for the Kang’ata team to convince the plenary on Tuesday to affirm the committee’s decision. It is billed to be a tall order.
Mr Kang’ata dismissed as fake the list of 11 senators that has been circulating on social media as the individuals who will sit on the special committee. The senator said he is ready to include Tangatanga senators on the team.
Mr Lusaka confirmed that the names were not discussed.