Meru MCAs have issued some irreducible minimum demands which must be met for them to work with embattled Governor Kawira Mwangaza.
During a meeting at Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s rural home in Hiriga village in Mathira, Nyeri County on Sunday, the MCAs are said to have been conciliatory but firm on their conditions of working with Kawira.
The first-term governor elected on an independent ticket was impeached by 67 of the 69 MCAs early December but saved by the Senate which vetoed an action that would have led to the fastest removal of a county head since devolution started in 2013.
At the meeting in Mathira which started at 3.30pm and ended around 7.30pm to a sumptuous meal of beef and rice, the MCAs presented a written memorandum to the deputy president outlining their demands through five of their representatives.
They enumerated the handicaps of working as ward reps “under a difficult governor” but expressed their willingness to give her a second chance if she was willing to play ball.
The MCAs first demand was that the governor must publicly express her willingness to compromise and work with other leaders before they can discuss the modalities.
They also wanted the governor to offer a public apology in their presence on the allegation that they had tried to extort from her government in exchange for political support.
The MCAs also demanded that the governor must desist from attacking them through her Baite Television station amongst many other demands. Further, the MCAs insisted on the need to rein in on the governor’s husband Murega Baichu whom they variously accused of being “a loose cannon”.
The MCAs including DMK Kiogora claimed that Baichu was humiliating elected leaders and posing a risk to spoiling reputations built over years.
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“We are asking that he respectfully stays at home or something be found for him to be busy even if it means giving him a national government job,” another MCA blaming the governor’s spouse of being the main cause of the problems in Meru.
At the end of the session which was largely a ventilation forum, Gachagua promised the ward reps that he would handle the preliminaries starting with getting the governor’s commitment to work with others.
The DP was on Monday set to get in touch with the governor to clear the preliminaries with a physical meeting between the two set for Wednesday. A meeting of all elected leaders from the county would then be organized later in the month possibly after the end of the MCAs benchmarking visit to Arusha which started yesterday.
But this meeting could be in early February considering that the MCAs return on January 22 when MPs would be starting their Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting and induction retreat in Mombasa which will take them to February 4.
Listening on in Sunday's deliberations were 11 of Meru's 12 MPs with Tigania East’s Mpuru Aburi being absent with apologies. Only the Meru PG chairman Dr John Mutunga (Tigania West) and Senate Deputy Speaker and Meru senator Kathuri Murungi spoke briefly at the session.
Kiagu MCA Simon Ngaruni who opposed the governor’s impeachment was excluded from the meeting with Gachagua.
The MCAs who made keynote speeches were Minority Whip DMK Kiogora (Abogeta West) who moved the failed impeachment motion, Majority Leader Evans Mawira (Mitunguu), Minority Leader Mwenda Ithili (Akithi) and Majority Whip Tim Muchui (Athwana). Others were Kiirua/Naari’s Jenniffer Murogocho and Zipporah Kinya (nominated) representing the women's voice in the county assembly.
Gachagua returned to his residence on a Kenya Air Force chopper accompanied by four Meru MPs Rahim Dawood (North Imenti), Julius Taitumu (Igembe North), Dan Kiili (Igembe Central) and Senator Kathuri.
Dawood and Kathuri separately expressed satisfaction with the Meru unity drive so far thanking the MCAs for showing a willingness to bury the hatchet for the sake of Meru.
“They were very willing to team up with the governor and, of course, it is in the interest of all that they are seen to perform,” said Kathuri.
While the DP blamed most of the woes in the county on the inexperience of the first-term governor who rose from a first-term woman rep to lead a diverse county of nine constituencies, he is said to have been equally sympathetic to the plight of the MCAs telling them of his often repeated tribulations under the Uhuru Kenyatta government.
“I must first agree with your governor on the preliminaries otherwise we shall have no reason to carry on with this dialogue,” one MCA quotes Rigathi saying in his closing remarks.
The MCAs agreed to answer his summons unconditionally and to retain the status quo of ceasing any attacks on Kawira and her government.
Yesterday, all the MCAs we spoke to were mum about the contents of the written memorandum or being quoted on record.
“We are keeping a very low profile for now to avoid escalating the tension but we are committed to resolving this crisis in the way the DP feels is best,” one of the vocal MCAs said.