Governor Waiguru ousted in drama-filled House session

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020 00:00 |
Embattled Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru. Photo/PD/FILE

Githinji Mwangi

Embattled Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru was yesterday impeached by ward representatives in a spirited fight that had witnessed some of them spending the night at the assembly’s chambers.

The journey to yesterday’s vote was characterised by threats, intimidation and de-whipping of some MCAs who, however, vowed to remain focused and united until they accomplished their mission.

A total of 23, out of the assembly’s 33 members, voted to impeach the governor whom they accused of corruption, nepotism and violating procurement laws.

Initially, 30 ward reps had signed a petition supporting Waiguru’s removal but the governor managed to convince five to her side.

The “defection” by the five triggered suspicion. The tabling of the motion was a well-guarded secret with only a handful of the 23 MCAs aware of the finer details. 

The planning and execution of the vote was conducted with military precision, prompting murmurs that a powerful person outside the county was coordinating the MCAs.

Waiguru has consistently accused Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho of sponsoring her impeachment by mobilising MCAs.

Kibicho has denied the accusations.

Mattresses and blankets

The 23 MCAs were on Monday evening summoned and briefed about the motion before being shepherded to the assembly lounge where they spent the night. Mattresses and blankets had been acquired for the night.

“No one was allowed to use their mobile phone as they were all switched off. One had to be accompanied even to the washroom,” said Mutira ward MCA David Wangui, who prosecuted Waiguru’s impeachment before the assembly.

“We wanted to ensure that we remain united since we had faced a lot of intimidation and threats. In fact, sometimes, we feared for our lives,” the MCA told People Daily after the vote.

Wangui said his home was last month attacked by arsonists who nearly burnt his family. The attack, he said, was aimed at intimidating him and stopping him from tabling the motion.

“I nearly lost my family but I decided to stand strong to the end,” he said.

At the assembly in the morning, MCAs supporting the motion stayed in pairs with every move seemingly well co-ordinated and monitored.

They all ate their breakfast at the assembly’s canteen before dressing up for the business of the day.

Court orders

During the voting, they cast their ballots according to the script, with 23 supporting the governor’s impeachment. Four abstained while six were absent.

Following the move, Waiguru’s fate now lies with the Senate where the allegations against her will be subjected to scrutiny.

Yesterday, Waiguru dismissed the impeachment, saying she would not be bullied or intimidated.

She accused the MCAs of working for powerful forces outside the assembly.

According to Waiguru, the ward reps’  “allegiance seems to be to a master pulling and pushing levers from outside the assembly.”

In a press statement, the governor said she had obtained “clear and unequivocal” orders from the High Court stopping any proceedings by the assembly on the impeachment motion. 

“The motion is ill-informed, ill-timed, baseless and a waste of valuable time that may be better spent handling serious issues impacting the county including the Corona crisis,” she said, pointing an accusing finger at Kibicho.

The PS, who last month accompanied MCAs opposed to Waiguru in an inspection of government projects in the county,  told them not to relent on their oversight role. He also denied claims that he is interested in Waiguru’s position. 

On the court case, the MCAs argued that the National Assembly and the Senate were busy with their activities.

Earlier, chaos erupted at the assembly during debate of the motion.

Nominated member Lucy Njeri and Karumandi MCA Antony Munene, both ardent supporters of Waiguru’s, were kicked out of the assembly after they attempted to disrupt the proceedings.

Speaker Anthony Gathumbi ordered the two to leave the assembly, but they refused to walk out forcing the Speaker to order the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw them out.

Moving the motion, Wangui laid out several accusations against Waiguru.

“If we have to finish corruption, nepotism and flagrant misuse of public resources in the county, Anne Mumbi Waiguru must go. For medical doctors, nurses and clinical officers who were sacked for no apparent reason to get justice, Anne Mumbi Waiguru must go,” said the MCA.

Fictitious firms

The MCAs accused the county chief of leading a criminal enterprise aimed at siphoning millions of shillings from county coffers.

Waiguru is also accused of paying millions of shillings to fictitious firms owned by her relatives and friends.

Wangui cited a tender for design, development, installation and commissioning of an integrated hospital management system, which was awarded to Velocity Partners Limited, a company he claimed to be fictitious, and which was paid Sh50.6 million.

He claimed another company associated with her family, Two Ray’s General Supplies Limited, was paid Sh8 million “for supplying air”.

The Mutira MCA said the manner the payment was invoiced and processed was evidence of the criminal enterprise since it was paid on the same day the firm presented the invoice to the county treasury.

Tender conduit

He also told the assembly that the governor used her office to improperly pay herself imprest of  Sh10.6 million and yet she did not travel.

The payment, he said, was done the same day the governor invoiced the county and was paid directly to her personal account at Equity Bank.

Waiguru was also accused of violating the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act by usurping the powers of accounting officers in establishing a tender evaluation committee composed of friends.

The committee, according to Wangui, was used by the county boss as a conduit to award tenders to her preferred bidders.

Wangui charged that the tendering process was driven by nepotism, favouritism, improper and ulterior motives and for corrupt purposes.

Waiguru has in the past denied all the accusations against her terming them “flimsy” and a witch hunt by people interested in her position.

Yesterday, de-whipped Majority Leader Kamau Murango said that he could not defend the governor because the evidence adduced before the assembly was “overwhelming”.

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