The impeachment proceedings against embattled Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza reached a critical stage yesterday when Senate started debating the motion whose outcome will determine her fate.
The hearing kicked off with the governor’s advocates and those of Meru County Assembly putting up strong cases for respective positions. Kawira pleaded not guilty to all charges against her paving way for the Senate to hear the county assembly present its case led by counsel Muthomi Thiankolu who warned the senators not to fall by the governor’s facade as meek and innocent.
Thiankolu told the Senate that the governor appeared innocent and vulnerable to toxic masculinity while she had adopted the mantra of Jamaican musician’s Shaggy ‘It wasn’t me.’
“Following a few weeks of camaraderie after surviving an impeachment motion last year, the Governor of Meru went back to her old ways adopting a not caring attitude with gross violation of the Constitution being the order of the day which has resulted in her being before this House today,” he said.
He submitted that Mwangaza has violated the Constitution and it was upon the Senate to impeach a rogue governor.
Another lawyer, Marius Maranya for the county assembly said the Senate’s mandate was to investigate the allegations made against the governor. He argued that impeachment proceedings are about accountability, political responsibility and good governance.
“We are going to demonstrate before the Senate that the conduct of the governor has been beyond reproach as it is required with her relationship with Meru residents, all elected leaders and other actors within Meru having irretrievably broken down warranting her impeachment from office,” he said.
The county assembly said the governor was a repeat offender who did not deserve any favour from the House and asked the senators to save the people of Meru and not Mwangaza since the centre could not hold anymore. They argued that the County Assembly was tired of the back-and-forth with the governor and would not like their efforts to serve Meru residents to be turned into a mockery anymore.
Kawira, dressed in a patterned African attire and appeared calm, engaged in animated discussions with her advocates.
The governor’s lead counsel Elisha Ongoya told the Senate that Meru has 772,000 registered voters who overwhelmingly voted for Mwangaza and the Constitution provides that the removal from office of a governor should be rigorous process.
“The framers of the Constitution were wise in making the impeachment of the governor a two tier process, this House possesses quasi-Judicial pedestal position in this matter with the accuser, the prosecutor and the judge not being one person. The diversity of the House with members coming from various parts of the country means they will not be entangled in local politics,” said Ongoya.
He said Mwangaza had effectively responded to the accusations leveled against her and that the latest Infotrack opinion poll has ranked her as among the best-performing governors, which was not by mistake but a true reflection of Meru residents.
Ongoya argued that the burden to prove charges against the governor rests with the county assembly and they are claiming she has been misusing county funds not because the Auditor General or Controller of Budget has said so but because there is a similar claim before the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
“Most claims made against the governor are plain lies like she has employed relatives yet these people are not relatives. They are saying Nephat Kinyua is a brother-in-law to the governor which is not the case, you will be told the governor has named a road after her husband, which is not there,” he said.
On allegations that Kawira is a bully who posted abuse in WhatsApp groups, the lawyer said she was replying to abuse by her detractors and called on the Senate to dismiss the accusations.
The governor is facing accusations of alleged misappropriation and misuse of county resources, nepotism and related unethical practices, bullying, vilification and demeaning other leaders.
She is also accused of allegedly making Illegal appointments and usurpation of statutory powers, contempt of court, illegally naming a public road after her husband and contempt of the assembly.
“Governor Mwangaza is accused of embezzling county funds through relatives, withdrawing county funds through false claims of payment for supplies and services rendered by the governor’s relatives, despite being ineligible to tender for or supply goods to the county government,” said Senate Speaker Amason Kingi.
Mwangaza is facing accusations of allegedly paying full salaries and benefits for over a year to four high-ranking county officials, despite them not rendering any services and misusing resources, including funds and motor vehicles, to support the governor’s private charity.