When she became one of the three leaders who made history as first women elected governors in 2017, governor Anne Waiguru’s political star was shining.
From an obscure bureaucrat in a neglected department to a powerful Cabinet Secretary, to a governor and to featuring in 2022 succession matrix, Waiguru was rising and rising.
And this despite dragging with her, in her exploits, a heavy baggage of National Youth Service (NYS) scandal that erupted during her watch as Devolution CS, and for which she was cleared.
But yesterday, as the Senate House Business Committee sat to deliberate the modalities of her impeachment process, Waiguru was hanging on a thin line, suspended between powerful political interests of the day and the substantive motion passed by the Kirinyaga County Assembly when they impeached her on Wednesday.
In the background of yesterday’s meeting was a demand by Waiguru’s home county MPs that the impeachment proceedings be conducted by the plenary, like it happened in former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu’s matter a few months ago.
However, when the committee emerged from a closed-door meeting, it was to save her from the plenary, recommending a committee route with a caveat that the plenary can overturn this decision on Tuesday.
Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata is said to have successfully lobbied against plenary route, giving Waiguru an early score.
“We simply gave a recommendation to the House. The actual decision on whether it will be conducted by plenary or committee is for the plenary to make. The most important thing is to ensure the Senate’s process is objective, free and fair to both parties. We want the best for Kirinyaga,” Kang’ata told the Saturday Standard yesterday.
Kirinyaga MPs, led by Woman Rep Purity Ngirici, were rooting for plenary, fearing that a smaller committee may easily be compromised.
But their political association, Tanga Tanga, has also added another dimension to the impeachment proceedings, driving it to the direction of Deputy President William Ruto versus President Uhuru Kenyatta.
In videos that went viral ahead of the committee meet, Ngirici and company castigated Kang’ata, a key ally of the president, accusing him of playing monkey business with the impeachment. The pressure is said to have had the opposite effect as Kang’ata lobbied further to overturn their wishes.
“Mr Irungu Kang’ata hear us and hear us well. This is not Murang’a County, this is Kirinyaga County. You must not bring such kind of corruption. We want the whole Senate to sit over this and to make independent decision. And this, we are not asking... We are demanding as people of Kirinyaga,” Ngirici is quoted as saying.
She spoke in Murinduko, Kirinyaga County, where she distributed foodstuff, soap and face masks to residents.
Prior to this, sources say, Waiguru had been abandoned by the powers that be. Opinion was also divided as to the merits of saving her, given her past baggage and also that she had earned little goodwill with the elected leadership of her region.
For the plot to thicken all the way to the Senate, many observers say, Waiguru had been abandoned by her political benefactors who had her back as she was pounded mercilessly over the NYS saga, and who saw her through the treacherous Jubilee primaries that fell many.
Also, the shadow of Interior and Coordination of National Government PS Karanja Kibicho has loomed large in her woes. The governor had been tussling with Kibicho over the construction of the Sh15 billion controversial Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) 100 acre project in the county.
“If PS Karanja Kibicho wants to engage in village politics and insults, he can resign and join others in early campaigning. In the meantime, can he concentrate on the difficult task of ensuring internal security, including in the turbulent parts of the country,” once wrote Waiguru on Facebook.
But thickening the plot further, Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli yesterday called on the Senate to save Waiguru.
“Waiguru supports President Kenyatta and the agenda of making Kenya good for all. She should be left to continue serving the people of Kirinyaga and Building Bridges Initiative (BBI),” Atwoli said.
He said Waiguru is the face of BBI in Mt Kenya and together with her Kitui counterpart Charity Ngilu they are doing “a sterling job” to popularise the initiative, not only in Mt Kenya but the whole country.
Any cases of impropriety on her should be forwarded to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) for investigations, Atwoli said.
But even as Atwoli defended her, Waiguru’s goose appeared more than cooked if the motion were to be spared the shenanigans of the Kieleweke-Tanga Tanga politics. She does not appear to have received any help from Jubilee bigwigs except occasional letters from Jubilee headquarters, which did not scare the MCAs.
“Pursuant to section 33(2) of the County Governments Act, I write to inform you that in its sittings held on the morning of Tuesday 9th June, 2020, the county assembly of Kirinyaga in a motion supported by 23 members constituting over two-thirds of all members of the county assembly, solved to remove honourable Anne Mumbi Waiguru from the office of the county government of Kirinyaga,” wrote County Assembly Speaker Anthony Gathumbi in a letter to Lusaka.
The MCAs accused the governor of deliberately failing to submit county plans and policies to the County Assembly for approval and gross violation of the Constitution by failing to deliver the annual State of the County address to the assembly.
The impeachment motion was tabled on March 31 by Mutira MCA David Kinyua Wangui, who said he enjoyed the support of at least 24 members in the 33-member assembly. The governor is also accused of using her office to improperly benefit herself.
The MCAs claimed she was irregularly paid travel allowances by way of imprests amounting to Sh10.6 million.
“The governor has deliberately refused, failed and/or neglected to deliver the same for the financial year 2018- 2019 which failure amounts to a gross violation of the Constitution and the County Government Act,” said Kinyua.
To rub salt to her injuries, the High Court in Nairobi on Thursday refused to stop the Senate from discussing the impeachment motion.
“We want fairness, a precedent was created with the Waititu case and we will only go for that and nothing else, and we are warning that Uhuru and Raila should keep off this matter,” said Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei.