Wamatangi woes deepen as fresh hostilities hit county leadership

Kiambu Governor Kimani Wamatangi when appeared before the Senate Health Committee on November 8, 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

In June this year, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua convened a reconciliation meeting at his Karen residence with Kiambu leaders. This was after the legislators fell out with Governor Kimani Wamatangi and in a bid to forestall a looming impeachment against him by Kiambu MCAs.

Only Githunguri MP Gathoni Wamuchomba and County Women Representative Anne Wamuratha were absent for the reconciliation sitting.

Gachagua is said to have instructed the leaders to work together for the social-economic development of the county.

Two months later, a similar fallout has emerged amid a heightened war against the Wamatangi administration.

A decision by Wamatangi to issue cheques to parents of the eight wards in Ruiru constituency lifted the lid on the new round of hostilities between the governor and MCAs.

The MCAs, including Kennedy Odhiambo (Kahawa Sukari), Zack Macharia (Kiuu), Brian Sinne (Wendani), John Kamande (Gitothua), Kimani wa Nduta (Biashara), and Donna Kendi (Mwiki) opposed the move.

Chaos erupted when Gatongora MCA John Njogu and his colleagues demanded that the governor start by giving Sh1,000 or Sh2,000 to everyone present. The programme was briefly interrupted when some youths marched to the event to stop issuance of the cheques.

MPs and MCAs are now accusing Wamatangi of being a lone ranger and not working with other elected leaders.

They also accuse him of failure to include key people in decision-making and also list sluggish infrastructural developments at the ward level.

On Monday, some MCAs held a press conference and termed him a lone ranger. Also at the centre of heightened wrangles between the county assembly and executive leadership is Wamatangi’s failure to fully constitute his government for effective service delivery, one year after assuming office. The MCAs, who have already dethroned the assembly’s majority leader Godfrey Mucheke, believed to be Wamatangi’s point man, held that unless the governor puts his house in order, they won’t hesitate to oust him.

But the governor defended his leadership, saying it’s high time residents and leaders familiarise themselves with his style.

Wamatangi said he will not be cowed by demands of corrupt people, claiming the fights at the assembly are a plot by his political rivals opposed to his leadership.

He said his political enemies were using MCAs as hostages in a larger scheme to disrepute him. The governor said he had instituted stringent measures to tame theft and wastage, including austerity measures that include suspension of county meetings in hotels, saying some county employees had even nicknamed a tent at the county headquarters “Naivasha” as the new venue for internal meetings by county staff.

“All I won’t do is play politics, it will be bad for someone who asks God to give him a chance to serve people to deviate from that mandate and venture into dirty politics. Allow me to work for you and let those who want to continue with politics to continue,” added Wamatangi.

Kiambu Senator Karungo Thang’wa, who has agitating for talks to end the differences, said time has come for Wamatangi to change his leadership style.

“Despite a meeting with the DP in June, he has not changed. It took the intervention of the President to read him a riot act when he opened Githurai market during his tour of Mt Kenya region. He was told that he came to the party late and if he had not read the party’s manifesto, he better familiarise himself with it or else he would not be part of UDA,” Karungo said.

Gatundu South MP Gabriel Kagombe accused Wamatangi of neglecting Gatundu level 5 hospital, leading to closure of critical services at the facility.

MPs in Kiambu who have openly criticised Wamatangi’s leadership include Leader of Majority and Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa, Githua Wamachukuru (Kabete) and Alice Ng’ang’a (Thika).

Wamatangi’s administration is also marred by resignations of senior officials he appointed.

Among those who have resigned are county executive committee member for education Biabiane Waiganjo, who in April this year cited harsh, oppressive and suppressive working conditions for exiting the county executive after only two months.

County chief of staff Gibson Mburu would later resign, followed by County Executive Committee member in charge of roads Samuel Mugo and chief officer for roads Daniel Njenga.

None of these have been replaced since their resignation, a move that has irked MCAs who accuse Wamatangi of unilaterally running the county’s affairs. Another position that has remained vacant is county secretary after Dr Martin Njogu resigned months ago.

Although he did not state why he resigned, MCAs alleged a poor working relationship between him and the governor.