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Quorum hitch saves Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua from impeachment

By Erastus M Mulwa | Published Thu, November 24th 2016 at 00:00, Updated November 23rd 2016 at 22:50 GMT +3
Machakos County Assembly Sergent-at-arms Joel Kiptum struggles to shield Tom Luusa, an ally of Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, from an angry crowd yesterday during debate on an impeachment motion against the governor. [PHOTO: JOHN MUIA/STANDARD]

An impeachment motion against Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua flopped yesterday over lack of quorum.

According to the Constitution, 40 out of the 59 Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) needed to vote in favour of the motion to successfully impeach Mutua.

However, only 27 turned up for the debate, amidst claims that 32 MCAs had flown out of the country to deny the motion a quorum.

In the final vote, 26 out of the 27 MCAs present voted to impeach the governor.

Earlier in the day, the impeachment motion mover, Ndalani MCA Stephen Muthuka, took to the floor of the assembly at 10.23am, and for more than two hours laid out the grounds to remove Mutua from office.

Mutua, who by law is supposed to defend himself from accusations levelled against him in the county assembly, did not appear in person, but sent his lawyer Wilfred Nyamu to represent him.

Muthuka accused Mutua and the county government of abuse of office by deliberately presiding over corrupt dealings and plunder of county public resources.

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"This assembly resolves to remove Alfred Mutua from the office of the county governor of Machakos, pursuant to article 18 (1) (a), (b), (c) of the Constitution, section 33 of the county governments Act (2012) and the Standing Order 60 of the Machakos County Assembly on the grounds attached herein," said Muthuka.

In his Motion, Muthuka accused Mutua's government of irregular transfer of Danish International Development Agency (Danida) funds from county government accounts to personal accounts through illegal cash withdrawals and payments.

The MCA claimed grants amounting to Sh161 million from the World Health Organisation and Danida had been misappropriated.

"Our healthcare institutions have been in total mess and yet the governor has been colluding with his officers to siphon money meant for public use," said Muthuka.

Muthuka also told the assembly that Mutua had used county funds to mount signposts promoting himself and his political party, Maendeleo Chap Chap.

"Article 75 of the Constitution demands that any public officer delinks matters of personal interest with those of public interest and on this account the Governor clearly broke the law," he said.

The motion also raised questions about Sh7.5 million confidential expenditure allegedly transferred to the governor and Sh2.8 million allegedly contributed towards  funeral arrangements for the late Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo.

Kola MCA Festus Ndeto, who seconded the motion, claimed the county government stole Sh89 million meant for the desilting of Maruba dam, which was never done.

"This was a clear case of theft of public funds in broad daylight," said Mr Ndeto.

Mutua's lawyer poked holes in the impeachment motion, terming it as unconstitutional and a breach of  procedures.

"Governor Mutua was elected by over 200,000 people and not just 59 individuals as constituted in the county assembly. The mere fact that the impeachment process is devoid of public participation therefore renders the whole exercise null and void," said lawyer Nyamu.

Nyamu argued it was a misconception for the governor to be held liable for mistakes committed by officers under him.

At some point during the impeachment proceedings, chaos erupted after a politician from Makueni County, Tom Luusa, believed to be a close ally of Governor Mutua, was forcibly ejected from the assembly's public gallery.

Luusa was roughed up by a group chanting anti-Mutua slogans.


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