Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu’s impeachment was upheld by the Senate on Wednesday this week. This was after Kiambu Members of County Assembly (MCAs) overwhelmingly voted to impeach him in December 2019.
Waititu’s impeachment process, just like the others before him, provides ample proof that our democracy can work. Further proof of the potential of our democracy was seen in the Senate’s decision to have the whole House listen to and vote at the end of Waititu’s defence, instead of a select committee that some feared could easily have been swayed.
There was a good reason Kenyans voted for a new Constitution in 2010. It was to have a better system of government; a government in which leaders would use public resources to serve the interests of the people for development and social prosperity.
It is the duty of the Senate to protect the counties, their interests and their governments. Impeachment is a process the Senate engages in to protect these interests as they did in the case of Kiambu County.
The MCAs had accused Waititu of abuse of office and gross misconduct in the management of county affairs.
Other charges levelled against the governor included conflict of interest, in which it was alleged companies associated with him benefitted from doing business with the county government.
Further, it was claimed that the county government under Waititu’s stewardship had failed to comply with rules and requirements that govern procurement. Although Waititu blamed his impeachment on politics, we want to believe that senators had a good reason to take the action that they did.
However, Waititu still has a fighting chance and that is why he went to court yesterday to block his impeachment.
He has another chance of proving his innocence in a case in which he is charged with irregularly awarding tenders amounting to Sh588 million.
But whether the court will find him guilty or innocent, the Senate has done its job. It has impeached him. That’s democracy at work.
At the centre of the Senate process is not the desire to punish governors for their political affiliations but to protect devolution.
Devolution is about taking services closer to the people, but if leaders choose to ignore the law and engage in actions that cost their counties dearly in terms of development, then the concept loses value.
Waititu’s impeachment should, therefore, serve as a warning to other governors who do not follow the law and fall short of the principle of accountability.
In fact, Senators should similarly crack the whip on other governors who appear before them over audit queries and who they are convinced have gone against the public interest. They must do so without fear or favour without considering the political affiliation of the accused governors and without bowing to any undue influence. That way the House will win the respect and confidence of Kenyans for being a true and impartial defender of devolution.