Split among MCAs could save Meru governor from second impeachment

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza takes to the witness stand at the Senate in Nairobi during the hearing of an impeachment motion against her on December 28, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

It was a reprieve for Meru governor Kawira Mwangaza on Monday when 15 MCAs announced they are not part of ongoing plans to impeach her, for a second time.

The governor has had a rough ride since she was elected in August last, clashing with MCAs, leading to her impeachment, just months into office.

The Senate later overturned the decision by the county assembly but the MCAs are at it once again as they plan a second impeachment.

Mwangaza has been on overdrive trying to woe MCAs to her side as she fights to avoid a second possible impeachment and the apparent split in the county assembly has come as a major relief for her.

Some of those who have distanced themselves from the planned impeachment motion said they did so after the process was hijacked by outsiders.

Mwangaza has blamed her problems on her political opponents, including local MPs she accuses of fighting her administration without any justifiable reason.

Groundbreaking ceremony

The 15 MCAs, who accompanied the governor during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Sh250 million aggregation and industrial park at Ruiri-Rwarera in Buuri, said they are not aware of the impeachment motion and will vote against any such motion if it is brought to the county assembly.

It is this split among the ward representatives that could save Mwangaza's job even as those opposed to her and supporting efforts to oust her expressed confidence that they would succeed.

The MCAs who accompanied Mwangaza during the event presided over by outgoing Investments, Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria, disowned the impeachment motion and stated they had not signed it.

However, Majority Leader Evans Mawira sought to counter the claim stating all but one MCA in the Kenya Kwanza coalition was yet to sign it.

Mbeu MCA John Muguna said they had not seen the planned motion and would not support it.

"We have not seen the motion coming to assembly. We cannot sign for a motion that we have not read. The first (impeachment motion of December last year) was ours but we have since united and working with the governor. There are no fights between us. Those (MCAs) who are being misused will find us (in assembly) when and if they come with their motion," Muguna said, adding that they were fully behind Mwangaza.

Expressing support for Mwangaza, Fridah Naito (Nominated-UDA), said President William Ruto did not nominate her to "fight wars".

"He nominated me to partner with the county government of Meru to deliver services to the people," said Ms Naito.

Joshua Mithiaru (Naathu), Nelly Mukami (Nominated-Jubilee), Kiambi Ngaruni (Kiagu) said they recognised Mwangaza as the leader of Meru.

"We want to work with the governor to deliver services to the people of Meru," Ms Mukami said.

Some of Meru MCAs affiliated to Kenya Kwanza, led by Majority Leader Evans Mawira (centre) of UDA, when they announced a fresh bid to impeach Governor Kawira Mwangaza on Saturday, September 23, 2023. [Charles Omondi, Standard]

Kiambi said: "We have no interest in playing politics with this matter. We want development. We have no problem with the governor".

Defending her performance, Mwangaza listed successes her administration has had since she took over, including reducing a Sh1.1 billion in pending bills she inherited to Sh700m.

"When I launched my manifesto, I said we must free Meru County from all forms of servitude, all forms of slavery, one of which is poverty," she stated.

Mwangaza, facing a potential impeachment bid by the ward reps who she says were being used by her political opponents, said her bid to free the people from bondage was a costly affair.

"There is no freedom minus cost. Because I want to free my people, it has cost me. I have pleaded with God to make me strong for me to be able to help Meru residents," she said.

Mwangaza sent out an appeal to all elected leaders to work together for the benefit of the people.

"That is my plea to all leaders in Meru. It is very important for all of us to understand the duties that God gave us. It is not to fight, but to work for the people of Meru. I would like to see us uniting to deliver services. That is why we are paid millions of shillings," she said.

The governor said a few leaders, who she did not name, are the source of a conflict that is threatening her job.

Sabotaged by external forces

"The MCAs and I are united and we are demanding not to be sabotaged by external forces. We need the space to deliver services. We do not want external interference. The entire blame will be to the governor and MCAs if we don't work," she said and added, "It is time we embraced one another and worked together for the people".

She said though Meru was a patriarchal society where only she and Kiirua-Naari MCA Makena Murogocho were the only women to be elected, she was determined to succeed in development.

"God helped us (she and Murogocho) to succeed. I prayed for God to help me to be a game changer. I vied as an independent candidate and won. It is my humble prayer that we put politics aside and focus on development. When 2027 comes, everyone who wishes can vie," she said.

She said her administration had built four dams as part of her ongoing efforts to enhance access to clean drinking water.

"We have four big dams, one in Igembe, another in Tigania and another in Buuri. We are opening roads that have never existed and building more than seven bridges. We have six aggregation centres (for farmers)," she said.

She named the Sh77 million ECDE feeding programme for 60,000 children and a youth empowerment programme as some of her other successes.

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