Yesterday, embattled Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu became the second governor to be impeached after Members of the County Assembly accused him of graft.
Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja was the first one to be impeached.
Here is the full journey to the removal of a governor from office through impeachment.
But first, what is impeachment?
Impeachment is the act of charging a public official with misconduct often with the aim of having the official dismissed from office. But impeachment is a process, it does not in itself remove the official from office.A governor can leave office in the vent of
2. Mental Health/ illness
4. Tribunal finds him guilty of gross violation of the Constitution.
What are the grounds for removing a governor?
According to article 181 of the constitution, a governor can be removed due to:
· Gross violation of the Constitution or any other law.
· Where there are serious reasons to believe that the County Governor has committed a crime under national or international law.
· Abuse of office or gross misconduct.
· Physical or mental incapacity to perform the functions of the office of the county governor.
So what does impeachment entail?
Section 33 of the County Governments Act contains guides:
MCAs table a motion to remove the county governor on notice to the speaker relying on the grounds stipulated in article 181 of the constitution.
In the case in Kiambu, Ndenderu MCA Solomon Kinuthia introduced a motion accusing Waititu of engaging in corruption, abuse of office and gross misconduct.
The member tabling the motion must receive the support of two-thirds of MCAs to move the motion.
As a result, according to Speaker Stephen Ndichu, Waititu was impeached after 63 of the county assembly voted in favour of Governor Waititu’s impeachment, one voted against it and 28 did not turn up.
In the motion, the governor was accused of violating the public procurement rules and conflict of interest after it emerged that tenders in the county were awarded to companies owned by relatives.
He was also accused of breaching the county procedures by hiring casual workers without the involvement of the County Service Board.
After the motion goes through, the county assembly speaker informs the speaker of the Senate within two days of the impeachment.
The informing is in writing and refers to the county assembly resolution passed to impeach the governor.
The governor continues to perform the functions of the office pending the outcome of the impeachment process.
In Waititu’s case, however, he has been barred from accessing his office after the Court of Appeal upheld the decision to bar governors charged in court from accessing office.
How did Kiambu County get here?
It all started on July 19, 2019, when Governor Waititu and his wife Susan Wangari were charged with graft after a dramatic arrest.
They denied six counts revolving around an alleged irregular procurement of a Sh588 million tender awarded to a company in the county.
In May, Waititu was summoned by the Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee to explain some financial allocations which the audit report unearthed.
Some of them included allocations for coordination of State House functions, South Sudan Peace, free primary education and payments of retired presidents.
Waititu disowned the audit before the parliamentary committee and even accused his political rivals of plotting his downfall.
It was through these allegations that Kiambu MCAs started a motion to impeach the governor.
There were two impeachment motions in the Kiambu assembly; one targeting Governor Waititu which has befallen him and the other against his deputy James Nyoro.
What happens next?
The speaker of the Senate is now expected to convene a sitting to hear the charges the county assembly brought against Waititu.
A special committee of 11 senators will form be to investigate the charges levelled against the governor and report to the Senate within ten days.
If there is no proof against the allegations, then the impeachment inquiry will be dismissed. But if the committee finds proof, the senate will proceed to vote on impeachment charges after assurance that the governor has received a fair hearing.
However, a governor holds the right to appear and be represented by a lawyer before the committee during the investigations.
A governor will cease to hold office if the majority of the senators vote in favour of the impeachment, otherwise if they vote against it, the Senate Speaker now notifies the County assembly Speaker.
An MCA can reintroduce the charges after three months from the day the Senate vote against the impeachment charges.
Who becomes governor after a successful impeachment?
According to Article 182 of the constitution, the deputy will assume office as the county governor.
In a rare case when the governor is not available, the Speaker of the county assembly will act as the governor for sixty days before an election for the office is held.