Embattled Governor Waiguru’s fluid world: Jinxed or unlucky?
Emeka-Mayaka Gekara and Eric Wainana
She is either unlucky or has a tragic flaw in her character — or both. Or, maybe, she has offended her gods.
Embattled Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru keeps digging herself in and out of one hole after another.
Fished out of Treasury where she worked as a senior director and appointed to a powerful Cabinet position in 2013, Waiguru’s star has been shining and dimming in equal measure, in what has now become a near predictable pattern.
The governor, who was yesterday questioned over alleged theft of county funds, has hardly enjoyed extended peace in the high profile public jobs she has held.
Waiguru’s national profile was fast-rising when she was appointed Devolution Cabinet Secretary where she was ranked among President Uhuru Kenyatta’s best performing ministers in the early days of the Jubilee administration.
But her world came tumbling down in 2015 when she was forced to resign following the multi-billion National Youth Service (NYS) scandal, which rocked her ministry.
One would have thought that Waiguru’s fortunes would change, having retreated to her home county, won the governorship in 2017 against all odds, and even got married in a colourful traditional wedding ceremony attended by the country’s crème de crème.
But her reign as governor has turned into a nightmare as she battles her way through individuals and groups opposed to the way she has run county affairs.
Waiguru’s latest challenges are “a storm in a tea cup,” according to Dr Richard Bosire, a senior political science lecturer at the University of Nairobi.
“Waiguru is caught up in the Kieleweke and Tanga Tanga wars. She has weathered many storms before.
But I will not be surprised the end game is to finally clear her,” said Bosire in reference to groupings associated to President Uhuru and Deputy President William Ruto, respectively.
Bosire argues that Waiguru has an uncanny a way for “pulling herself” up whenever she is caught up in a mess.
“Waiguru had positioned herself as the chief BBI campaigner in Mt Kenya before the lull after Covid when MCAs took advantage and tried to impeach. The fact she appeared to be saved by the State machinery was telling.”
Barely had she settled in her new office when her nemesis and New Ford Kenya leader Martha Karua moved to court to challenge her victory, setting off a protracted case that will end up in the Supreme Court which validated her win.
Following the verdict, an angry and relentless Karua vowed to take the matter to the Arusha-based East Africa Court of Justice.
After the harrowing six-month battle to defend her victory, the unexpected Handshake between President Kenyatta and opposition chief Raila Odinga would thrust her back to the national limelight as one of the faces of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) in Mt Kenya Region.
But an ugly fight with Kirinyaga MCAs saw her impeached in June. However, Waiguru’s career was saved by the Senate, which overturned the assembly’s decision in a highly charged trial that was covered live on national television.
Yesterday, Waiguru attributed her woes to the 2022 succession politics in Mt Kenya region where various leaders have been jostling to inherit the mantle from Uhuru once he retires after the end of his second term.
“The inescapable conclusion is that this is not about investigating travel imprests but a wider scheme to shape the 2022 succession politics of Mt Kenya, and, to detract from critical allegations against a multitude of persons on various multimillion corruption allegations,” she said after police raids in Nairobi and Kirinyaga.
“This is a decoy. It is intended to detract people who have recently been asking legitimate questions about how massive public monies have been spent. I have been here before.
I have been used as a decoy before. The plot failed then and it will fail now. Wild allegations are thrown around only to come empty of even the basic proof,” she added.
Seemingly unbowed, the county chief who occasionally flags the gender card in her battles, vowed to soldier on.
“Kenyans are not easily fooled, they can see right through this charade. They know who is behind it and they know why.
It is about 2022 politics, period! My only comfort has always been -There is a God in heaven.”
The governor has consistently accused powerful Interior PS Karanja Kibicho of sponsoring MCAs to frustrate her development agenda and throw her out of office.
The two have had run-ins, with Kibicho denying the claims, insisting that he was only keen to steer development projects in his home county.
Besides Kibicho, Kirinyaga Woman Representative Wangui Ngirici has been another thorn in Waiguru’s flesh.
And true to her words, the governor needs God’s intervention if the raging stalemate in her county over cash remains unsolved.
Service delivery is about to grind to a halt in Kirinyaga after MCAs shot down the county budget following accusations she had allocated millions of shillings to lawyers who defended her during the Senate impeachment trial, including her husband Kamotho Waiganjo.
But Tebere Ward MCA Gurdison Muchina believes Waiguru is her own enemy, describing the governor as a lone ranger who was running the county as if it was a private entity.
“It is either her way or the highway. You don’t ask questions. You act according to her directives which is difficult for a politician to run the county,” he told People Daily.
Baragwi Ward Rep David Mathenge said Waiguru’s combative nature had isolated her from the rest of the county leaders.
“If she is not fighting with MCAs, she is on PS Karanja Kibicho or her deputy Peter Ndambiri. She has a big ego and doesn’t give other people room to talk,” he said.
The decision to overturn her impeachment was seen as influenced by the Uhuru-Raila alliance in Parliament with the opposition supremo’s strong allies led by Siaya Senator James Orengo coming to her defence.
Political risk expert Javas Bigambo also blamed the governor for her problems.
“Accountability is the backbone of governance and among the values of governance. Senate found no sufficient ground to hold her impeachment, but did not exonerate her.
She may also need to separate her political battles from matters accountability.
Clouds of blame and disregard will hang forever upon her sky if she doesn’t give herself to proper scrutiny. In the end, she has herself to blame for her woes.”
All said, Waiguru is turning out to be the typical cat with nine lives. When she was impeached by MCAs in June, a group of Kirinyaga women traders held a mock funeral of the possible death of her political career in which they carried a dummy coffin covered by a Maasai shuka and cleverly corrupted a Kikuyu dirge in which they fixed her name.
She lived through the ceremony and was ready for the next fight. Will the latest EACC effort break Mumbi? Time will tell.