Waititu’s moment with fate as Senate hears impeachment motion

Kiambu Governor Ferdinard Waititu and his Wife Susan in the dock at a Milimani court during a pretrial conference on their corruption case. [George Njunge, Standard]

The Senate is to deliberate the impeachment of Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu on Tuesday after his ouster last year.  The House will discuss and make resolutions on Governor Waititu’s impeachment motion amidst questions over the legality of the special sitting.

At the centre of the discussion will be the determination of whether Waititu’s impeachment grounds met the legal threshold.

The special sitting includes the 11-member committee where five members are drawn from the minority side and the remaining six from the majority side of the house.

The special sitting comes at a time when it should have been convened immediately after Waittitu’s ouster. A situation that has led to the questioning of the legality of the sitting.

SEE ALSO :Baba Yao fights back

But Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka defended the move saying that the delay was unavoidable.

“The impeachment took place when the house was on recess and it was not foreseen. And for the speaker to convene a special sitting, I need to get the communication from the leader of the minority and the leader of the majority and 15 Senators because that is our quorum,” he told KTN News.

 Speaker Lusaka said the situation was unprecedented and it was the first time an impeachment happened when the House was on recess.

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According to Lusaka, the discussion could be handled in two different ways. The Senate may opt to convene an 11-member committee to discuss the motion or hand it to the plenary committee.

If it goes to the plenary, then the members will vote and clear the matter. But if it goes to the committee, then the governor and the witnesses will be called for the hearing and the process will take 10 days. 

SEE ALSO :Senate to rule on Waititu’s removal

After this, a vote will be taken by 24 counties as the law requires.

Ouster

On December 19, 2019, Governor Waititu was ousted after 63 Members of the County Assembly voted in favour of his removal, 28 failed to turn up for the session and one voted against the impeachment motion.

The impeachment motion was tabled by Ndenderu MCA Solomon Kinuthia who accused the governor of engaging in corrupt dealings, abuse of office and gross misconduct.

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.

SEE ALSO :Senate to discuss Waititu on Tuesday

He was also accused of breaching the county procedures by hiring casual workers without the involvement of the County Service Board.

On December 10, 2019, an impeachment against Waititu and his deputy James Nyoro failed to take off after it emerged that the grounds for the impeachment did not meet the legal threshold.

MCAs allied to Governor Waititu snubbed the sitting. Kiambu Assembly Speaker Steven Ndichu confirmed the postponement of the debate for failure to adhere to set guidelines.

 “This communication is to confirm that the same motions will be considered next week by the assembly per the constitutional, relevant laws and standing orders,” he said.

The motion was also deferred to allow the Members of the County Assembly to furnish the governor with adequate notice and respond to the allegations in due course.

SEE ALSO :Divisions in Jubilee over debate to oust Waititu

On December 23, 2019, four days after his ouster, Waititu wrote to the Senate protesting his impeachment arguing that the whole process was irregular.

The Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka acknowledged the receipt of the Governor’s letter and, but indicated that he would not act because he had not received a formal notification about the impeachment.

“I have not yet received any notification from the Kiambu County Assembly Speaker regarding the impeachment of Governor Waititu.  My office will act accordingly once we receive the communication and documents in evidence of the House proceedings on December 19, 2019,” he said. 

Waititu objection

Waititu had assigned lawyers Ndengwa Njiru and Antony Kago, who sat through the impeachment debate and whose attendance was captured by the Hansard.

The governor through Ndegwa & Ndegwa Associates termed the impeachment unprocedural as it lacked the quorum. He said:

“From the commencement, the Assembly did not have the requisite statutory quorum at any particular time… The number of the Members of the Assembly is 92, thus the statutory quorum required under Section 33(2) of the County Governments Act to pass such a special motion is 62 members.”

Waititu was barred from his office in September by Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi after he was arraigned alongside his wife for corruption.

On July 19, 2019, Governor Waititu and his wife Susan Wangari were charged and denied six counts revolving around an alleged irregular procurement of a Sh588- million tender awarded to a company in the county.

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Kiambu Governor Ferdinand WaitituImpeachmentSenateKen Lusaka