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December 11, 2018

The tale of two governors

Machakos governor Alfred Mutua. Photo/WAMBUA KAVILA
Machakos governor Alfred Mutua. Photo/WAMBUA KAVILA

If you think this is a story about Alfred Mutua and Evans Kidero, look away now, it’s not. I think that one has already been written. The jpeg is making its rounds on the internet, find it.

I’m talking about Mutua and Martin Wambora, Mutua and William Kabogo, Mutua and you name them. Kenya went to the polls on March 4, 2013, yet barely a year later, many of us regret the choices we made, not just for governor but for senator and probably every possible political position we voted for. The thing is, I’m told, we deserve the leaders we get — we chose them so let’s deal with those choices.

Impeachment is big news in Kenya and as I told a friend on Friday evening – as Wambora’s term ended - there were very few politicians who were smiling.

A few local government officials probably burnt the mid-night oil wondering if they too could get rid of their governor while most governors wondered if they needed to look again into their conduct and affairs over the past year and see if they too could suffer the same fate as Wambora.

Truth – I didn’t know who Wambora was until the impeachment motion was filed. I sit and marvel as Kenyans (read Nairobians) bleat and whine about the rubbish leadership we have and I agree, we have got quite the bunch of jokers, but it amazes me that we refuse to see what’s happening as the pains and gains of growth.

A year ago, impeachment was a fancy word politicians threw around to scare their opponents into “playing nice” and passing them a little something in the toilets of the corridors of power.

A year ago, a motion to have our Central Bank Governor taken to court would have been met with a smirk and even dismissal. Today, all around Kenya the mood and the sentiments have changed — not enough to create a “new day” but certainly enough to make quite a number of the “untouchables” sit up and pay attention. This, my fellow Kenyans, is a good thing.

So, yes, I had the pleasure of hosting Machakos Governor Dr Alfred Mutua, and whatever misgivings we may have had about the man in his former docket, you give credit where it is due — he seems to have a plan and he is working it.

I like to take a wait-and-see approach to anyone in political office. My challenge for Dr Mutua is can he keep up the momentum or will he stop given that he’s gotten more positive press than most.

Like I said, I will not be discussing Dr Evans Kidero, not until he honours our invitation to come onto The Big Breakfast and answer one simple question – “WTF? Boss, this is Nairobi!”

Back to the impeached governor and the undercurrents. Did you notice how quickly one Kabogo figured he needed to apologise for his silly utterances about “single mothers”.

I’m sure it wasn’t sincerely meant, but the chances that the heat could be turned way up high for him became very apparent with the impeachment of Wambora.

Self preservation is the name of the game and that’s just fine. If that’s what it takes to make elected leaders take stock, then let’s aim for gas-mark 1.

Our job as voters and the electorate is not to simply talk, it’s to act, to keep the pressure on, to turn up the heat and ensure what we want is done. We hired these people.

Wait, wait, some of us didn’t hire them, we awarded them for being our pals, for giving us a few handout and sadly for others we didn’t vote for them — we voted against their opponents.

In fact we should seize the moment and the sheer undercurrent created by the removal of Wambora to turn up the heat on the rest of our leaders, governors, senators, ward representatives, MPs etc alike and demand the services, changes and lives we want and deserve.

They were hired for a term to do a job and it’s about time they did. No more playing nice. I took some time out to look at the reasons other governors huko majuu have been impeached and the story is pretty standard.

 

1988 - Evan Mecham, Arizona

The Arizona state House voted (46-14) and Senate impeached (21-9) Mecham (Republican) after a state grand jury convicted him on six felony charges of fraud, perjury and filing false documents. He served 15 months as governor. Wambora beat that record.

 

1929 - Henry S Johnson, Oklahoma

The Oklahoma legislature impeached but did not convict Johnston of 11 charges; he was convicted of one charge — general incompetency. I saw your eyebrows go up on that one – yes general incompetency. How many Kenyan governors would be convicted today of that one? Si semi jina.

 

With a new constitution in place and a day where politicians outnumber known musicians and celebs in The Pulse, the tables may just have turned in the favour of the electorate — you and I.

The question is, will we seize the moment and continue to hold elected officials to account so they can deliver for us, or will  we whine and bitch on social media and carry on with business as usual.

Today more than ever the ball is in our court and today more than ever we have the ability to do something. Meru has gotten the ball rolling and Dr Alfred Mutua is setting the pace in his own way, it’s up to you and I to take note of the tales of these two governors and use them in our favour. Kazi kwetu.

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