Lack of political party backing main source of Mwangaza's troubles

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Given the nature of Kenyan politics, ousted Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza has been living dangerously, politically.

Elected governor as an independent candidate, Mwangaza’s vulnerability was evident from the word go.

Mwangaza announced her arrival in county politics when she was elected woman representative in 2017, still as an independent candidate.

She was among the highlights of last year’s elections when she floored political titans, former governor Kiraitu Murungi of the Devolution Empowerment Party and UDA’s Mithika Linturi, now Agriculture Cabinet Secretary.

No sooner had she settled in the governor’s office than MCAs impeached her. The word reps ousted her just 122 days into her tenure, on December 14 last year.

Senate rescued

The Senate rescued her even as President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua intervened and reconciled Mwangaza with the MCAs.

Even after surviving the first impeachment, it clear that she was not out of the woods, just yet. It was just a matter of when, not if, the second impeachment would come.

After numerous run-ins with the MCAs, MPs, and other local leaders, matters came to a head on Wednesday, October 25, 2023, when MCAs impeached Mwangaza, again. All the 59 members present voted in the affirmative. Ten MCAs were away.

Pundits say Mwanagaza has been living dangerously, politically, exposed, with no backing from any political parties.

Mwangaza’s troubles with MCAs started when MCAs rejected seven of the 10 executives she had nominated. The governor insisted that her nominees were competent as she urged the MCAs to approve them. However, things came to a boil over the matter when the MCAs walked out on Mwangaza when she went to the county assembly to deliver her inaugural address.

Some attribute her tribulations to the fact that as she has no political party. She has no loyal MCAs in the assembly and she has to lobby for her Bills on her own.

Unlike other governors who have it easy because they get the backing of their political parties to advance their interests, Meru's besieged governor has to make extra efforts to win the support of the MCAs.

Former Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Murithi, who served a single term, faced many problems with MCAs largely because he had no backing of a political party, as did Mohamed Kuti of Isiolo.

Meru MPs and MCAs have accused Mwangaza of being a lone ranger who never consulted or worked with other leaders, preferring to do things her way.

Pundits say Linturi, who was crowned Meru spokesman at Njuri Ncheke shrine recently, and Kiraitu, who still has a lot of influence even at the national level, have the power to intervene for Mwangaza.

Independent candidate

Minority Whip Dennis “DMK” Kiogora (Abogeta West) said the thought that Mwangaza was having trouble because she was elected as an independent candidate, is partly true.

“But, also, the MCAs have been willing to support her. However, she is not level-headed, and you cannot advise her,” said Kiogora, who sponsored the impeachment motion. The MCA is a close ally of Kiraitu.

Political analyst Gitile Naituli says Mwangaza may end up as a major political force if she survives the second impeachment.

Prof Naituli reckons that if she survives, her political opponents could suffer because of “the law of unintended consequences”.

“Meru County's elected leaders should be taking the impeachment seriously because if she survives, she will influence the political deaths of many politicians by using voters as weapons of war,” he said.

He added: “A leader who is alien to Western ways of conducting government affairs but a darling of the commoners. Probably, a leader who has never come across the term officialdom. That’s Kawira for you. If she survives, she will render the current leaders in Meru jobless.”

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