Waiguru, MCAs fight hits plans to contain Covid-19

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru demonstrates how to wash hands after she flagged off 200 water tanks to be distributed to public places. The standoff between her and MCAs is derailing plans to hire more health workers to fight Covid-19. [Joseph Muchiri, Standard]

The standoff between Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Members of the County Assembly could jeopardise efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus in the county.

Ms Waiguru on Tuesday announced plans to urgently hire an additional 200 medics to shore up the numbers of health workers who would act as the frontline army in battling the scourge.

Already, Waiguru has established an isolation ward at the Kerugoya County Hospital and readied six boarding schools where victims would be isolated in the event the disease breaks out in the county. She said all that now remained was to hire more health workers to man the facilities.

But the hiring cannot be done at the moment since the county has no fully constituted Public Service Board to legally carry out the recruitment.

When the term of the previous board lapsed, Waiguru nominated four people to replace the outgoing board members. But MCAs rejected the nominees on grounds that they were incompetent.

This has forced her to plead with MCAs to approve the four nominees before she can take the names back to the County Assembly.

Six supporters

So far, only six MCAs have agreed to support her choice of nominees. The rest, who have already initiated the process of impeaching her over various allegations, vowed to reject the nominees.

Speaking after a special sitting on Wednesday when Mutira MCA David Kinyua filed a notice to impeach the governor, ward reps argued that Waiguru should recall the nurses and doctors she fired last year over strike to protest the poor state of health facilities in the county.

The MCAs pointed out that when an assembly rejects nominees, six months have to elapse before new names are brought back to the House.

“Let her recall the sacked medics. The fired nurses went to court and may be reinstated if they win the case. What happens if the county will have hired new health workers? We don’t have money for that,” said Tebere MCA Gudson Muchina.

His Baragwi counterpart, David Mathenge, advised the governor to consider the directive by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe to form an ad hoc committee that can hire health workers in the meantime since the assembly will not give her a leeway to hire new medics unless she reinstates the sacked ones.

Pro-Waiguru MCAs

The six pro-Waiguru MCAs have been urging their colleagues to soften their stance and pass the names since the country is facing a health crisis.

“Now that we have the coronavirus pandemic, let us stop grandstanding between the Executive and the Assembly and take action to save the lives of our people,” pleaded Karumandi MCA Antony Munene.

Meanwhile, a lobby group allied to Waiguru has threatened to invoke the recall clause for all Kirinyaga MCAs if the ward reps continue with their impeachment plans.

Led by Team Waiguru senior coordinator Gichovi Ndathi, the group dismissed the Waiguru ouster plan as politically instigated and not in the best interest of the electorate.