Mwangaza must go, say MCAs as governor ‘dismantles’ evidence

Embattled county boss says accusations contaminated with local politics and too weak to warrant her ouster

In Summary
  • Meru MCAs on Tuesday laid bare their case against Kawira Mwangaza and persuaded senators to oust the ‘rogue’ governor even as she sought to dismantle the accusations.
  • Kawira denied all the seven grave allegations leveled against her by the MCAs who are for the second time, persuading the senate to uphold her ouster in a year.
Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza at the senate for the hearing of her impeachment hearings on November 7, 2023
Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza at the senate for the hearing of her impeachment hearings on November 7, 2023

Meru MCAs on Tuesday laid bare their case against Kawira Mwangaza and persuaded senators to oust the ‘rogue’ governor.

But Mwangaza sought to dismantle the accusations which she said is contaminated with local politics and too weak to warrant her ouster from office.

Meru MCAs are for the second time in less than a year persuading the Senate to uphold Mwangaza's impeachment as governor.

“Do not be preoccupied by the allegories from Europe. Look at the evidence before you. Evidence is not considered. The evidence is weighed,” Mwangaza’s lead lawyer Elisha Ongoya said.

The besieged governor is accused of among others, embezzling county funds though proxies, nepotism by hiring close family members and bullying and vilifying county leaders.

In the day-long hearing, the county assembly, which impeached the county chief two weeks ago, accused the governor of committing a ‘series of misconduct' that warrants removal from office.

“We are submitting that by the governor persisting in the very series of misconducts that brought us here one year ago,” Assembly’s lead lawyer Muthomi Thiankolu said.

“…the only change being the particulars, she’s actually telling you that the Senate doesn’t know how to do things properly, including how to impeach a rogue governor,” he added.

“When we appeared before you, the governor took the posture of an innocent and vulnerable victim of toxic masculinity, harmful patriarchy, gender stereotyping, gender discrimination and political machinations,” he said.

Marias Maranya, assembly’s lawyer, told the senators that by the county chief appearing before them for a second time within a year, it implies that the ‘centre has failed to hold.’

“If someone can be brought before you in a period of one year, it means the centre cannot hold anymore,” he said.

Yesterday, the county assembly presented six witnesses who testified against the governor before the whole house of the Senate.

They played video clips as they sought to expose the governor’s ‘unbecoming’ conduct especially towards other county leaders.

First to take to the witness stand is Chief Executive Officer of Liquor Board Paul Mwaki who was sent on an indefinite compulsory leave, went to court and was reinstated to the office through a court order.

However, Mwaki shocked the plenary with an admission that he was receiving a salary for a period he was sent on compulsory leave.

Mwaki was categorical that although he alongside other officers sent on compulsory leave and reinstated struggled to get back to office to offer service, they were denied.

Asked whether he was complaining for receiving a salary for services not offered by the governor’s lawyer Ongoya, Mwaki responded, “Yes I'm complaining for having been paid without rendering services to the people of Meru. We were being paid every month since we received the suspension letters from the end of September 2022.”

The plenary heard that in the court order that reinstated Mwaki and his colleagues, County Secretary Rufus Miriti had been listed as a respondent alongside the Meru County Public Service Board and the governor.

The senators also sought to establish the truth behind why the court order contempt was listed as one of the grounds of impeachment of the governor.

Marsabit Senator Mohamed Chute told Mwaki that he belonged to Kamiti for admitting that he had earned money without rendering any service to the people of Meru.

“You belong to Kamiti because you have been receiving money illegally,” Chute said.

However, Mwaki in his response argued that he alongside other officials who were suspended, had tried to go back to the office but at the time there were still officers who had been appointed to their positions in an acting capacity, and that their appointments had also not been revoked.

“We have never refused to go back to the office. She bears the responsibility. We have been in court struggling to get back to work. We made efforts to get back to work but we could not,” he said.

But Ongoya took a swipe at the argument that the court contempt charge was not against Mwangaza but against the County Secretary.

“The ruling of the Employment of Labour Relations Court confirmed that the salaries and benefits were to be fully paid," Ongoya said.

It was the County Secretary that was supposed to comply with the court order since he was the one who wrote the letters and not the governor,” he added.

“The governor has attempted to purge the contempt. The letters have not been rescinded. We have the other persons in acting capacity. She was convicted and that conviction has not been set aside.”

Assembly Majority leader and mover of the impeachment motion Mawira Karia, who was the second witness to take the stand, sought to portray how the governor has employed her relatives in the county government.

He claimed the governor ferried her relatives, some unqualified to China as technical officer to assess medical equipment.

The Chinese firm was supposed to set up a cancer firm in the county.

On Wednesday, the governor will take the stand to dismantle the evidence provided by the assembly.

Later, the lawmakers will take a vote to decide her fate. At least 24 out of 47 elected senators will be required to vote in favour of the motion to uphold the impeachment.

In the charges, the MCAs are accusing the governor of using her close relatives including her sisters Rose Kinyua and Miriam Guantai, brother Kenneth Guantai, brother-in-law Nephat Kinyua and her husband’s nephew Edwin Mutuma to embezzle public funds.

They claim the governor, through the relatives, withdrew county funds under the guise of payments for county supplies.

They alleged that the governor authorised payment to a Dr Ntoiti, liquor board CEO Paul Mwaki,  Meru Microfinance CEO Kenneth Mbae, and Mewass CEO Kithure Mberia despite the officers not rendering services to the county.

“The governor was involved in diversion and (mis)use of county resources (including funds and motor vehicles) to run the governor’s private entity dubbed Okolea,” the MCAs said.

The assembly accused the governor of fraudulently misrepresenting her relatives as a ‘technical team’ for purposes of traveling to China.

She is accused of employing her relatives and those of her husband, some unqualified and assigning them diplomatic duties.

The embattled county boss is accused of excluding her deputy from county executive committee, bullying and undermining him, changing locks to DG’s office and arbitrarily relocating the office.

“The governor made inciteful, insulting and demeaning remarks against other leaders, by falsely accusing them of cartelism at a presidential thanksgiving service,” they said.

Further, the governor faces accusation of appointing Kenneth Riungu as a chief officer without county assembly approval.

She’s accused of appointing unqualified persons, breached court order and unsurping powers of the county public service board by creating offices of traffic marshals.

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