Concern as Meru governor, her deputy in fresh feud

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza (centre), at the Senate at Parliament buildings in Nairobi on December 30, 2023, after surviving impeachment. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Efforts by President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua to stem a fallout in Meru County's political leadership appear to have failed to yield fruit.

Early this year, the DP, acting on Dr Ruto's orders, attempted to mediate between area governor Kawira Mwangaza and MCAs as the differences between the executive and the county assembly threatened to derail the devolved unit's development agenda.

This followed the impeachment of Mwangaza by the county assembly last year through a motion filed by Abogeta West MCA Dennis ‘DMK’ Kiogora, making her the first county boss to be impeached barely three months after being sworn in.

All 67 MCAs present during the impeachment session voted to remove Bishop Mwangaza over abuse of office claims. 

The MCA brought several charges against the governor, including disrespect to MPs and other leaders, and nepotism.

However, Mwangaza survived the impeachment after the senate special committee found that all the 62 allegations that MCAs had levelled against her were unsubstantiated.

Mwangaza wrote history on August 9 last year when she floored two political giants, the then Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi and then Senator Mithika Linturi, to win the governorship.

And barely months after Gachagua appeared to have succeeded in brokering the truce, fresh feuds have erupted. A section of MCAs and Tigania East MP Mpuru Aburi have fallen out with Mwangaza. However, it is her tiff with her deputy Isaac Mutuma is worrying residents the most.

On Thursday Mr Mutuma issued an appeal to President Ruto to once again intervene and help restore unity, following cracks in the county leadership.

This comes after he was ejected from his office that is next to Governor Mwangaza’s. The deputy governor's office was later moved to another building across the road. And for the first time, the governor and his deputy will operate from different addresses.

The first governor Peter Munya and his deputy Raphael Muriungi shared the same building, an arrangement replicated during Kiratu Murungi’s tenure when he enjoyed a cordial relationship with his deputy Titus Ntuchiu.

Meru deputy governor Isaac Mutuma. [File, Standard]

Even as his remaining staff moved his belongings to the new address, Mutuma said he would remain unbowed and would dutifully discharge his official duties, "even though I no longer have funds for operations".

Mutuma, who spoke at Makutano in North Imenti sub-county on Friday, said he read malice in the relocation of his office.

The deputy county boss who was flanked by MCAs Kiriinya Mwenda, Salome Mutua (both from Devolution Empowerment Party) and UDA ward representatives Sarah Gakii, Doris Gakii, Zipporah Kinya, said the governor has continued to sideline him in the running of the county affairs.

“With the ongoing reorganization in the county where I have been moved to the old premises, I call upon the Meru residents to remain calm as it is within the mandate of the governor to reorganize her government the way she wishes," Mutuma said.

He added: "I, Reverend Mutuma, your humble servant, fully support her. I am ready to work from anywhere as long as we offer quality services to the people of Meru, even if it will be under a tree.”

Mutuma said the new split among leaders threatened to derail the county government’s contribution to supporting President Ruto’s bottom-up economic model.

“I appeal to the President and the DP to intervene and help resolve the political impasse in Meru between elected leaders for peace and harmony to prevail,” he said.

But speaking separately when she issued pipes worth Sh5 million for community water projects in Central Imenti Sub County, Mwangaza said she remains focused on delivering her development agenda.

"Whoever feels dissatisfied might as well move out," said Mwangaza, adding: "If you feel the government is not accommodating you well and you are restricted and cannot participate in the development, you might as well get out.”

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