Kenyans have become accustomed to impeachment motions against governors. Some of these motions have resulted in the county chiefs being sent parking.
The first governor to be impeached successfully almost three years ago was former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu after Senate upheld the county assembly’s ouster decision.
Baba Yao’s impeachment set a precedent for other county assemblies as evidenced by several impeachment motions that ensued. Governors Mwangi wa Iria of Murang’a, Paul Chepkwony of Kericho, Granton Samboja of Taita Taveta and the late Nderitu Gachagua of Nyeri were among governors impeached by MCAs by 2022.
These motions however flopped in the Senate. Governor Martin Wambora of Embu survived two impeachment motions.
Come 2023 and barely 112 days into office, Governor Mwangaza Kawira of Meru County was impeached by MCA’s acting in contempt of court. She was however rescued by the Senate which did not uphold the county assembly’s ouster verdict. Needless to say, Mwangaza has become another statistic and victim of MCA’s wrath after her flopped ouster.
What is driving these impeachment bids? Is impeachment the only way to handle their differences with governors? During Mwangaza’s impeachment, an MCA argued that “the only cure to the wrongs and lawlessness committed by the governor was impeachment”. Really?
Another MCA retorted "the governor's continued stay in office under the prevailing toxic environment will inevitably undermine effective and efficient service delivery and thus hurt the interests of the people." Which people was he referring to? The same people who overwhelmingly elected Mwangaza as their governor? Or is it MCA’s interests?
Boni Khalwale, the chair to the Special Senate Committee that investigated the charges against Mwangaza warned MCAs against misusing their constitutional powers to intimidate governors to satisfy their personal selfish interests. These are the interests MCA’s are safeguarding in guise of the electorate's.
MCAs' need to be reminded of their mandate in the counties; to legislate good county laws, pass budgets that can help their constituents, ensuring all wards are developed equally and offering oversight - not going after governors whenever their (MCAs') interests aren’t met. How long had Mwangaza served and what kind of oversight had MCAs offered given that we were still recovering from the election winds? It’s clear Meru MCA’s, just like others, were settling personal scores with their governor.
Similarly, MCA’s need to be reminded that voting to remove a governor from office is not their overriding mandate. The stalemates witnessed in counties when MCAs refuse to pass budgets are attributed to MCAs bulldozing their way so that their interests can be met. This too, needs to be stopped.
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MCAs need to refocus and remember why they were elected. Voters are tired of their shenanigans.
-Ms Waiti is a Law student, University of Nairobi