How Mwangaza survived the second impeachment attempt

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza and her husband Murega Baichu at Parliament Buildings after she survived impeachment, November 8, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

A scandalous outburst attributed to Tigania East MP Mpuru Aburi and last-minute calls to senators by Azimio leader Raila Odinga saved embattled Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza from a decision that would have ended her political career.

A senator allied to Azimio who spoke to The Standard said that most senators who watched the videos played showing Aburi demeaning the governor changed their minds and they decided to vote against the second impeachment motion that she faced in less than one year.

Raila is said to have called senators allied to Azimio and implored them to save Mwangaza from impeachment. He termed the grounds for impeachment as “flimsy and political machinations”.

According to Kenya Kwanza senators, President William Ruto had allowed them to vote with their conscience, unlike last time when they were whipped to support her.

“Governor Kawira should thank the Tigania East MP for the demeaning comments he made about her in the several videos played before the Senate since they earned her sympathy votes from senators who were baying for her blood, they played a major role in convincing us to save her,” said the senator.

Another senator who sought anonymity said those who were willing to vote for Mwangaza’s impeachment were offered Sh2 million, which some took but eventually ended up saving the governor.

In voting that went past midnight, the governor who appeared worried could be seen wiping tears with a handkerchief from time to time as she bowed her head as the senators voted for each of the seven accusations that had been brought to the House by Meru County Assembly members.

Senate Speaker Amason Kingi had announced to the House that the governor would be impeached if she was found culpable on even one of the seven counts.

The charges were misappropriation and misuse of county resources, nepotism and related unethical practices, bullying, vilification and demeaning other leaders, illegal appointments and usurpation of statutory powers, contempt of court, illegally naming a public road after husband and contempt against the County Assembly.

When given a chance to make final remarks before the vote was taken, Mwangaza pleaded with the House to save her asking forgiveness if she had wronged anyone in the Senate and in Meru County. She  admitted that just like any other human beings, she had her own weaknesses which she would strive to overcome.

“I am praying to God to give me energy, grace and perseverance to serve the people of Meru since I have a duty to unite them. I am seeking forgiveness from the Meru senator, Members of Parliament and Members of the County Assembly, ask them to allow that we have a fresh start,” said Mwangaza.

Meru Senator Kathuri Murungi said that there is a big problem in Meru which needs to be addressed and asked President William Ruto to take charge and understand what is happening. He said 59 Members of County Assembly cannot be mad to be impeach the governor for a second time.

Murungi, who is the Senate deputy speaker, said they should not look at the issue of gender alone as had been amplified in the impeachment proceedings and that there was some misrepresentation about the meaning of some of the clips presented before the House which should be reviewed.

Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot called on the senators to deliver a wise and non-partisan judgement so as to help the people of Meru sort out their political challenges and that the County Assembly did its job well not matter the outcome of the impeachment motion.

Cheruiyot argued that some of the charges had been proved beyond reasonable doubt and that the governor needs to change her ways and find the best way to work with other leaders in the county.

“I would like to tell the governor not to just preach but also read the Bible since this will enable her find answers to some of the issues being raised here. Whichever way this vote goes, Meru County will still need guidance from this House on how to carry out its affairs going forward,” said Cheruiyot. 

Cheruiyot gave the example of two women in the Bible who fought over a living baby after one baby died and they sought the counsel of King Solomon who tested them by asking whether he should cut the living baby into two after which he was able to know the real mother.

The Majority Leader said that some senators has asked whether they should invoke the Constitution to have the entire leadership of Meru sent packing and have a fresh start since it was clear that there was a serious problem in the county which needed to be addressed.

He said some of the messages displayed in the videos shown in the House were grave and that the National Cohesion and Integration Commission should take action since, as a father of two daughters, he would like to leave a better place for them when he exits politics

Senate Minority Leader Stewart Madzayo said members had spent long hours on Tuesday and Wednesday so that they could listen to what is happening in Meru and that they were saddened by some of the videos that appeared to demean the female gender.

Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale said the conflict among leaders in Meru was not new but what is new is how they will handle the matter, giving the example where Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana was treated the same way as Mwangaza and ended up being the best governor.

Machakos Senator Agnes Kavindu said they had listened to both the governor and County Assembly and she was disappointed since the issues tabled in the House should have been resolved in Meru.

“I was disappointed by the videos of Governor Mwangaza being abused. Women are leaders and do not need to be bullied. I can see that if the governor and the MCAs are given time to work without interference, they can deliver. There is nothing to take her home,” said Kavindu.

Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina said they were entertained by a charade and innuendos which cannot be proved, condemning the abuses against the governor, terming them uncouth and uncivilised behaviour by a Member of Parliament.

“We are being invited to get into the conflict of manhood and womanhood and that if the area leaders cannot get their act together, the county should be disbanded and commission of inquiry formed to investigate the conduct of the leaders in the county,” said Kina. 

Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang said, “the people of Meru should seek to have their county disbanded and we send back Governor Kawira Mwangaza and all the Members of the County Assembly to the people so that they can get a fresh mandate.”

Nyamira Senator Okongo Omogeni said some utterances and acts committed against the governor were shameful, adding the Senate was on trial. He said he was voting in support of the women of Kenya and in respect of his mother, wife and two daughters.

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna said he had expected charges to meet the highest threshold as per the Constitution and that a decision had been made that Mwangaza had to go as the governor of Meru with measures put in place to ensure that was achieved at all costs.

Nominated Senator Tabitha Mutinda challenged Mwangaza to work with MCAs if she gets another chance to serve the people of Meru.