DIVIDED INTERESTS

Kiambu impunity on steroids

Governor Waititu is still holding out as the duly elected representative of the people.

In Summary

• Some CECs have bought into Waititu’s excuse, thus fortifying the stalemate, while some MCAs have also been caught in the confusion and are unwilling to restore order. 

• The MCAs are undecided, even though they may have reasonable grounds to impeach Waititu.

The Kiambu government-in-exile is a case of impunity on steroids.

Deputy Governor James Nyoro has the backing of the law to act, as his boss, Ferdinand Waititu, runs his court cases. But the governor won’t let go, even after the court barred him from transacting county business.

Governor Waititu is still holding out as the duly elected representative of the people of Kiambu. He says he was elected to serve a five-year term, and he has done a mere two years. He is not going anywhere, even with allegations of corruption spiralling around him and his family.

Waititu has chosen to run the show from Koinange Street, Nairobi, with the backing of ‘loyal’ county executive committee members. He claims the court barred him from running county affairs from Kiambu offices, not from doing so in any other location. He is, therefore, still executing executive powers as Kiambu governor.

Some CECs have bought into Waititu’s excuse, thus fortifying the stalemate, while some MCAs have also been caught in the confusion and are unwilling to restore order. The MCAs are undecided, even though they may have reasonable grounds to impeach Waititu.

The MCAs and the CECs, the people who should resolve the stalemate, have even made it worse. They have failed to protect public interest. The Waititu-Nyoro clash is a betrayal of the rule of law, and the anarchy is contempt for the electorate.

The crisis of leadership demonstrates dereliction of duty by the county assembly. The divided loyalties of the CECs give the governor the courage to hold out in an executive display of impunity. Suspicions of corruption around Waititu, and the holdout, offer grounds for his removal, or any other holder of the same office in similar circumstances.

The Kiambu crisis should interest ambitious deputy governors to join the war on graft and they can find clever ways of blowing the whistle on their bosses

At this point, though, Waititu has not been removed. He has been suspended because he may have violated the Constitution and the law. The anti-corruption court has reasonable suspicions to believe there is a prosecutable case against the governor.  The law allows the deputy governor to act when the governor is away. But the governor is claiming the office from exile. Anarchy has been unleashed on the Kiambu electorate.

Article 181 of the Constitution allows the removal of the governor on grounds of gross violation of the Constitution or any other law. Or where there are serious reasons to believe that the governor has committed a crime under national or international law; or abuse of office or gross misconduct.

For now, the court has established reasonable suspicions of a criminal nature that calls for the suspension of the governor, which allows the deputy governor to act. A vacuum may graduate into a vacancy should the court convict the governor of corruption and related charges.

A vacancy may also occur if the MCAs impeach their governor. The governor could opt to resign if there is massive public pressure for him to quit.

The possibility of a vacancy could be enhanced if the county executive committee members disown Waititu. For now, their indecision and split are fuelling the stalemate, further emboldening the stubborn Waititu.

The Waititu-Nyoro clash is also a test for succession in county executives. It’s a warning for governors, who are on the radar of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, that they may soon fall into the Waititu trap.

The Kiambu crisis should thus interest and incite ambitious deputy governors to join the war on corruption and they can find clever ways of blowing the whistle on their bosses. Their vested interests can also serve the public interest. The possibility of this coincidence can boost the quest for integrity in public office. 

As county insiders, deputy governors may have information crime investigators need to protect the public interest. They better share the information that may give them a shortcut to the top. They better grab power, they won’t have it if they are complicit.

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