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Spouses have no roles in county leadership, governors cautioned

Governor Kawira Mwangaza (right) with her husband, musician Murega Baichu, at Kinoru Stadium, August 2022. [Phares Mutembei, Standard]

Governors may find themselves on the wrong end of the law if they continue to allow their spouses to interfere with county operations.

Spouses have been warned to stay away from county government operations because the law does not recognise them.

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza sparked controversy by appointing her husband Murega Baichu.

She named him the Meru Youth Service Patron and the Meru Hustlers ambassador. Mwangaza said the position holder will not be compensated in any way.

The governor then said if it hadn’t been for her husband, she would not have been governor.

On October 1, the county executive took to Twitter to explain why she named her husband and to congratulate him.

“Many forget that without you there would be no governor in Meru county. You are the only person who believed in me when no politician would stand by me and campaign for me,” Mwangaza said.

The governor said through her husband’s talent she was able to hold campaign rallies and visit homes.

She added: “You agreed to sacrifice yourself and decided to work without pay and allowances. By accepting my ambassadorial appointment you have proved to be a selfless gentleman. A pillar of my strength and my support system. Many would like to judge my open declaration but it is only God and I who know you deserve much more than this.”

The governor said she is confident that with her husband’s support, she will deliver for the people of Meru.

“To the people of Meru, you elected me and I will deliver. There will be no conflict of interest just as when I served you as woman rep and delivered.”

Even before the county assembly vets executive nominees, the governor is facing a backlash from the ward representatives protesting her behaviour. The MCAs walked out on her during her inaugural address.

According to the MCAs, the governor has refused to engage them.

Experts have since warned county executives to be cautious in their choice and appointment of spouses.

Mwangaza is also facing impeachment proceedings and a petition to the legislature. In the petition, Thuranira Salesio Mutuma accuses the governor of gross misconduct and abuse of office.

Mutuma said Mwangaza sent Baichu to a stakeholder function on September 9, but he is not authorised to transact business on behalf of the county government of Meru.

Kinuthia Wamwangi, the former chairperson of the Transition Authority, said governors are not permitted to have aides-de-camp, and the only the president’s wife, the First Lady, is recognised.

He said the ADC position is a military rank given to the Commander-in-Chief rather than a civic or police rank.

Mwangaza confirmed accusations that she has her sister as her bodyguard on secondment by the Kenya Police Service and another sister as personal assistant from her earlier office as Woman Rep.

Wamwangi said he wrote to the Attorney General seeking an advisory on the position of county First Lady. The AG said there can only be one First Lady.

“It is wrong to call them First Ladies or Gentlemen. It is an intrusion and an imposition of functions that do not exist in law,” he added. By appointing her husband, the governor was introducing a centre of power that does not exist, Wamwangi said.