Impeachment: Big win for Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza

Meru County Governor Kawira Mwangaza in dance at Kinoru Stadium during Mashujaa Day celebrations. [File, Standard]

The High Court has stopped the bid to impeach Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza.

Justice Thripsisa Cherere's directive came just as the county assembly, where 68 out of the 69 MCAs are supporting the move, was about to start debate on the Motion to kick out the Governor.

The court ruled that the process used was flawed, and would deny the Governor justice.

The Motion sponsored by Abogeta West MCA Dennis Kiogora was scheduled to kick off Wednesday at 10am.

In her application, Governor Mwangaza claimed the Motion did not follow procedure and was in violation of her right to a fair hearing.

The Assembly had argued that the Governor was at liberty to defend herself against accusations levelled against her as contained in the impeachment Motion at the Senate.

But Justice Cherere agreed that the planned Motion risked violating her rights as she had not been given time to prepare her defense before the MCAs. "That the impeachment Motion dated November 21, 2022, scheduled for debate by members of the 1st respondent on November 30, 2022, at 10am is flawed and it is hereby quashed," said the court.

"That conservatory order be and is hereby issued prohibiting the respondents from discussing, debating, or in any way whatsoever dealing with the impeachment motion against the petitioner."

Justice Cherere said while the court must exercise restraint to guard against Judicial emasculation of constitutional mechanisms, the procedure the MCAs used was flawed.

She cited a letter to the Governor by Deputy Clerk, on November 21, giving her five days to respond to accusations cited in the Motion.

"The laid down procedure must be strictly followed failure to which the process becomes flawed,"' she said.

"It is the singular authority of the court to deal with the threatened violation before they happen and to give appropriate relief, including by issuing a conservatory order."

The Governor had labelled the impeachment plan a "sham process which is maliciously carried out in a surreptitious manner constituting a flagrant subversion of the constitution and the majority will of the residents of Meru County".

At the assembly, MCAs expressed disappointment, but vowed to rectify the anomalies and proceed.

In a session chaired by Speaker Ayub Bundi, they committed to obey the order.

"I respect it, but I disagree with it because we have followed the entire process as it is supposed to be, unless we revise the Standing Orders," said Mr Kiogora.

"The honourbale governor can run to the court to delay the process, but what must happen must happen. Even if it takes months the Governor has to go."

Lucy Mukaria (Nominated) said the court had strengthened their resolve. "We are not going to be deterred. We are more resolved than before as a House," she said.

Mwenda Kirinya, also Nominated MCA, said: "This House is not going to ignore the order. We will sit down and rectify that matter (procedure). We will be back."

But speaking later during a public participation forum in Nyambene, the Governor said she was ready to to settle the differences with the assembly members.

"The MCAs had said the Governor should apologise, yet I have not wronged them. But because the MCAs are 69 and with the Speaker make up 70 of them, we are going to apologize 70 times, if that is what we need to get development," she said.

Among those who accompanied her was former MCA Esther Karimi, who she had nominated as Trade and Cooperatives CEC before the MCAs rejected her.

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