Will Mwangaza survive second impeachment bid by MCAs?

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza launching a Sh78m feeding programme for the 777 ECDE centers in the county. [Phares Mutembi, Standard]

A day after Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua washed his hands off the Meru leadership wrangles, focus now shifts to the leaders who want Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza ousted.

The tone of those opposed to her is growing, with Buuri MP Mugambi Rindikiri leading the chorus against her.

Also in this group is Senator Kathuri Murungi, who is spearheading a programme that he says seeks to make the county government accountable for the funds it receives from the national government.

Mwangaza believes the opposition she is facing is political and links the planned impeachment to the 2027 elections.

She claims those eyeing the seat are sponsoring the bid to get her out of office.

The MCAs led by those allied to President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza have already started the process of impeaching Mwangaza for the second time after the Senate overturned the first attempt last December.

So, will Meru’s first female governor, who felled political giants in former Governor Kiraitu Murungi and Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi, survive or the ouster bid will one come a cropper like the first?

Mwangaza not only faces the wrath of MPs and MCAs, except Kiagu MCA Kiambi Ngaruni, but must also deal with a new battlefront in her Deputy Governor Mutuma M’Ethingia.

Mr Ngaruni is the only MCA, out of the 69 opposed to her, who backs the governor. According to Tigania East MP Mpuru Aburi, Mwangaza’s goose is good as cooked.

Aburi, one of Mwangaza’s most vocal opponents, expressed support for DP Gachagua’s announcement that the resolution of the leadership conflict in Meru was now in the hands of Meru leaders.

Expressed confidence

Speaking on Sunday when he accompanied the DP to a fundraiser at Kaelo Methodist Church in Igembe North where the DP was hosted by area MP Julius Taitumu, Aburi expressed confidence that Mwangaza would not be governor by December.

Earlier this year, Gachagua reconciled Meru leaders, and for some time, peace seemed to prevail until things came to a boil in recent weeks.

Meru MPs who are supporting the impeachment bid want the presidency not to be involved in the leadership wrangles. They want the issue to be resolved by local leaders.

Gachagua said: “The leaders and clergy have requested President Ruto and I to step aside. I am appealing to the governor, senator, Linturi and clergy to sit and decide what is good for Meru”.

An announcement that made Aburi rise from his seat at the front pew in celebration.

“God willing, the governor of Meru will be Mr Mutuma M’Ethingia by December!” he said.

Yesterday, North Imenti MP Rahim Dawood said: “The differences the deputy president said be sorted out by the people of Meru, so long as things are sorted out once and for all.”

Mwangaza attributes her troubles to people she defeated in last year’s polls and those eyeing the seat in 2027.

While Mwangaza has welcomed any efforts for unity talks, for the sake of development, she took a swipe at her deputy, whom she accused of working with her political opponents.

Mwangaza said she was pained after she picked M’Ethingia as her deputy out of many potential candidates, but he had now turned against her and is working with her opponents.

“It pains me that after I chose him as my deputy and I fully funded our campaigns, he has turned against me. I am not against unity, but I want a neutral person to mediate unity,” she said.

Mwangaza who has had the support of the clergy will likely have to contend with some opposition as M’Ethingia, a Reverend in the Methodist Church of Kenya (MCK) also has support among the clergy.

But now that the DP said the matter was in the hands of Meru leaders, the likelihood of aborting the impeachment is bleak.

Njuri Ncheke Supreme Council of Ameru elders Secretary General (Operations) Jospah Murangiri unleashed a proverb when he addressed the matter yesterday.

Spit out

Murangiri said the elders’ intention to mediate had been overtaken by events, adding that since the presidency had washed its hands off the conflict, it was up to the local leaders to resolve the matter.

“Igaciara mwanki gaionkayia, kironda kiamwene gitinunkaga (If we can’t swallow, we shall spit out and drink cooling water),” Murangiri stated.

According to political analyst Oscar Mutugi, the issue has come to a head now that Ruto, Gachagua and others have left the matter in the hands of Meru leaders.

“The president, his DP and indeed Council of Governors Chairperson Anne Waiguru are on record admitting that they were prevailed upon to intervene and spare Mwangaza last time she was on the chopping board. It is also in the public domain that other elected leaders, most of whom are aligned to UDA, have been applying pressure on the two leaders to take a step back and let them resolve local issues,” Mutugi said.

Mutugi summed it up: “DP Gachagua’s sentiments can, therefore, be construed as their way of yielding to pressure from local leadership to take a nonpartisan role and allow Meru leaders to take care of the political unrest internally. Any external interference, including influencing the outcome of the mooted impeachment process, may now be off the table.”