Mwangaza impeachment: Meru governor to know her fate today as senators vote

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

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza will today know her fate as senators vote to either uphold her impeachment or dismiss the charges. She will, however, be given a chance to plead her case before the Senate.

On Tuesday, Meru MCAs put up a spirited legal battle to convince the lawmakers that they were right to impeach Ms Mwanganza.

Taking to the floor of the House, their lead counsel, Mr Muthomi Thiankolu, painted a picture of a recalcitrant governor who is not ready to work with other leaders.

He said her defiant attitude has seen her faced three impeachment motions between November 2022 and October 2023.

He asked the senators not to save the governor again, saying: “Something has been terribly wrong in Meru County for a year and the people deserve better”.

Governor Mwangaza is facing charges of misappropriation and misuse of county resources, nepotism and related unethical practices, bullying, vilification and demeaning of other leaders.

Others are illegal appointments and usurpation of statutory powers, contempt of court, illegally naming a public road after her husband and contempt of the assembly. Lawyer Marias Maranya said the relationship between the governor and the people of Meru has irretrievably broken down.

One of the witnesses, Meru Alcoholic Drinks and Liquor Control Board CEO Arimi Paul Mwaki, narrated how he was sent on compulsory leave on September 6, 2022, and threatened by Ms Mwangaza’s husband Baichu Murega not to step back into the office despite court order allowing him to do so.

Mr Mwaki said he went back to the office in the company of Meru Water and Sewerage Services CEO Joseph Mberia and County Revenue Board manager John Ntoiti, but they were forcefully removed. The second witness, Assembly Majority Leader Evans Mawira, who is also the mover of the impeachment motion, recounted the fallout between the governor and her deputy Isaac Mutuma.

Ms Mwangaza will be represented by a legal team of eight lawyers and an assistant, which will be led by Mr Elisha Ongoya and Mr Elias Mutuma. Other members of her team are Mr Duncan Okubasu, Mr Robert Mutembei, Ms Bridah Kimathi, Mr Batista Mwirigi, Mr Antony Mwenda, Mr Collins Mwenda and Mr Brianlee Maingi.

She has lined up four witnesses — herself, Mr Nicholas Josphat, Mr Arayaru Adrian and Mr Dickson Munene. In his opening statement, Mr Ongoya tore into the evidence, saying, the charges facing the governor are “resurrected dead matters” that had been presented before and did not meet the threshold for impeachment.

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna sought an explanation as to why MCAs based an impeachment proceeding on matters that are still pending in the court.

Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi questioned why MCAs had listed the governor as the third respondent in the application before court, saying, this could be an admission that the governor is not involved in human resource matters.

Ms Mwangaza will have four hours to present her evidence and allow for cross-examination and re-examination starting at 9am. The next 30 minutes will be for senators to ask questions or request clarification before the House breaks for a one-hour lunch. The afternoon session will begin with the MCAs making a closing statement for an hour between 2.30pm and 3.30pm.

The governor will also be given an hour to make her closing statement before the debate o begins at 4.30pm for two hours.

Thereafter, the senators will be given time to vote whether to save the governor or uphold the resolution by the county assembly to remove her from office by way of impeachment. The voting exercise is set to start at 6.30pm.