Guilty: Senate upholds Governor Waititu’s impeachment

The Senate has voted for the removal of Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, (pictured) after finding him guilty of three charges which were tabled before it by Kiambu County Assembly.

Waititu becomes the first governor to be found guilty by the Senate. 

Senate Speaker Lusaka stated the three main charges namely; Gross misconduct, abuse of office and engaging in corruption.

SEE ALSO: Inside dirty tricks to swing Senate vote during Waititu ouster

First charge: "That Senate resolves to remove from office Governor Waititu for gross violation of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, the County Governments Act, 2012, the Public Finance Management Act, 2012 and the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2005."

Second charge:  "That Senate resolves to remove from office Governor Waititu for crimes under the National Law."

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Third charge: "That Senate resolves to remove from office Governor Waititu for Abuse of office and gross misconduct."

In the first charge, 27 Senators voted for his removal against 10 who objected. The number grew as one member shifted to support the motion for the second and third charges making it 28 for those supporting and 11 for those objecting.

In his defence, through his lawyers, Waititu had argued that the process was not procedural as it was not supported by the required two-thirds of Members of Kiambu County Assembly.

In addition, his lawyers maintained that Senate had not followed the set timelines. Governor Waititu is currently facing abuse of office and other corruption charges.

The House started hearing the charges against the governor on Tuesday following his impeachment by Members of Kiambu County Assembly on December 19, 2019.

During the proceedings, senators heard how Waititu influenced the award of county tenders worth millions of shillings to his wife and three daughters.

The Senate was told that although the county assembly approved road contracts worth Sh1.4 billion in the 2018/19 financial year, the county government awarded Sh2.1 billion worth of tenders.

 “The purpose of the irregular awards was not to provide public roads but to enable the governor to obtain personal benefits through kickbacks,” Ndenderu Member of County Assembly (MCA) Solomon Kinuthia told the Senate.

In his witness statement Ndenderu Member of County Assembly (MCA) Solomon Kinuthia, said Waititu exhibited gross misconduct contrary to the Public Procurement and Disposal Act in influencing the award of the lucrative tenders to companies associated with his relatives.

Kinuthia successfully moved the motion to impeach the governor in the county assembly last year.

He also accused the governor of conflict of interest. “The governor’s wife, Susan Wangari Ndung’u, a sole director in Suwanga Limited, got a tender for the construction of Kiambu matatu terminus,” Kinuthia said in the statement tabled in the Senate.

Waititu, on the other hand, asked the Senate to be fair in its judgment over his impeachment.

Waititu said that he is innocent until proven guilty. While making his opening statement at Senate special sitting on Tuesday, the governor told senators, “If you pin (sic) me because of that case, you will not have done justice to me.”

He added: “There must be guidelines. However bad I might look politically speaking, I deserve justice like everybody else. I deserve a fair judgment.

Waititu argued that he was wrongfully impeached and told Senate that only 57 members of the county assembly voted to have him removed from office, as opposed to the two-thirds required by law.

Waititu has been accused of violating public procurement rules and engaging in a conflict of interest after it emerged that tenders in the county were awarded to companies owned by his relatives.

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

Fierce debate

Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ on his submission argued that there were things that the governor should have been advised on without impeachment. On the flip side, he said that there were enough grounds to justify his ouster.

He lauded the bold move by Kiambu County MCAs to confront the governance issues at their county administration.

“You should not feel ashamed for bringing this matter to the Senate,” Kajwang’ said.

But while opposing the motion to remove the governor, Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot argued that accusers of the governor did not table evidence as was required by the lawyers of the county chief.

Nandi Senator Samson Cheragei defended Waititu claiming that his impeachment was political and a case of ‘governor eating its own people.’

He said: “Most of those charges are not a gross violation of the Constitution…the decision that Governor Waititu be impeached will haunt us forever.”

Chergai’s assertion was nonetheless challenged by his Nairobi counterpart Johnson Sakaja who asserted that the Senate would suffer no bad reputation by upholding the motion.

“Let it be remembered in history that the Senate has made the decision that has stood with the Constitution of Kenya,” said Sakaja.

Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri accused Governor Waititu of failing to back his claims. He said that the Senate waited all day for him to provide affidavit verifying that the quorum was not met at the time of his impeachment as he claimed.

 He said that the governor should have provided another affidavit affirming that the woman who appeared in court was not his wife and his children were never implicated.

Murang’a Senator Irungu Kangata was put to task to declare his interest as Meru Senator Mithika Linturi claimed that he had ties with the law firm which was handling Waititu’s case. Kanga'ta said that he left law firm after a partnership with it to form his own.

The legislator, alongside his Nominated counterpart Isaac Mwaura was forced to explain themselves after being accused of making comments implicating Waititu before the Senate resolved the matter.

Kakamega Senator Cleopas Malala stated that the governors and their deputies are elected on a single ticket. He said he would be making a proposal to change the law so that in case governors are impeached, they go home with their deputies.

Malala said that this would deter cases in which deputy governors thirsting for power secretly plot for the ouster of their bosses.

What next?

Kiambu Deputy Governor James Nyoro will now assume office as stipulated by the law.

As per the Constitution, in the rare case when a 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.

“Article 182 of the constitution states that when the Senate impeaches the governor, the deputy governor should assume office as county governor. The deputy governor should serve for the remainder of the term of the county governor.”

“However, if the deputy governor cannot assume the office of the governor, the assembly speaker should act as the county governor. Elections for the office of the governor should occur within sixty days after the speaker assumes the office.”

Waititu can, however, challenge the decision at the High Court.

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