Pro, anti-Waiguru forces locked in complex plots
Githinji Mwangi and Hillary Mageka
As efforts to save embattled Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru gather momentum, pressure is mounting on the Senate over a proposal to form a select committee to investigate her impeachment by the county assembly.
There is a strong push by those opposed to the governor to have the matter addressed by the full House, as in the case of former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu last December, while her defenders are pushing for a select team of senators.
And there’s every indication that the rivalry between the Jubilee Party groups of Kieleweke and Tanga Tanga, which are allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto respectively, is set to play out during the Senate debate and vote.
Fears have been raised that the team allegedly proposed on Friday after the Senate Business Committee (SBC) held its first sitting to discuss the procedure to prosecute the impeachment is sympathetic to President Uhuru and ODM leader Raila Odinga’s new political partnership in Senate.
Waiguru, who has been packaging herself as a leading voice in Mt Kenya region, and a fierce defender of the President, is a supporter of the Building Bridges Initiative spear-headed by Uhuru and Raila.
In the purported line up, Jubilee Party had proposed Senators Gideon Moi (Baringo), Anwar Loitiptip (Lamu), Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi), Beth Mugo and Abshiro Halakhe (both Nominated).
The National Super Alliance (Nasa) allegedly recommended deputy Minority leader and Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, Moses Kajwang’ (Homa Bay), Enock Wambua (Kitui), Judith Pareno and Beatrice Kwamboka (both Nominated).
However, in an interview with People Daily yesterday, Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka distanced himself from the list, saying a decision had not been reached on the method to be used.
“As SBC, we have scheduled a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) to consider the names that have been chosen by the two sides to be part of the select 11-member team to investigate the allegations against the governor,” the Speaker said.
“It will be upon the House to back our proposal for the select committee or hear the impeachment of the governor by plenary, which means the whole House,” he added.
Considering that the Senate is scheduled to go on recess tomorrow, senators will also be voting whether to take a break or extend their sittings for three days to hear Waiguru’s impeachment.
The Impeachment Procedure Act stipulates that within 10 days after receiving the Assembly’s resolution from the Speaker of the County Assembly under section 14 (8) (a) — the Speaker of the Senate shall convene a meeting of the Senate to hear the charges against the governor.
Either by setting up an 11-member special committee or sit as a committee of the whole House to determine whether or not the claims in the impeachment are substantiated.
But even as the Senate prepares to issue a verdict, there has been intense lobbying to rescue the governor from ouster against another campaign that is determined to have her kicked out.
At least four groups have emerged that either want to save the governor or send her packing.
While the Tanga Tanga group has resorted to using mainly social media campaigns to urge the Senate to send the governor home, the Kieleweke wing has been holding private meetings to firm up its strategy.
“If government wants to save Waiguru regardless of the facts, then she will be saved. If government and Capitol Hill dry cleaners combine forces then Senate will do nothing.
A few of us will make some noise, quote the Constitution and our DC will rule us out of order and declare her Mweupe kama pamba,” Elgeyo Marakwet Kipchumba Murkomen tweeted, alluding to media reports linking Raila to the Waiguru rescue effort which were dismissed by the ODM boss.
Then, there is another group that is said to be led by Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho and which has the support of Kirinyaga Senator Charles Kibiru and four MPs from the county.
It also said to involve Kenya’s ambassador to Austria Njeru Githae and Royal Media Services chairman SK Macharia, among other influential figures from Mt Kenya region who have fallen out with the governor.
Sources who spoke in confidence said the Kibicho team wants to install Waiguru’s deputy Peter Ndambiri to serve for the remainder of the term.
“We have had enough of her and it’s time we decided our own fate,” the source who requested to remain anonymous, said.
Then, there is another group that is led by Kirinyaga Woman Rep Purity Ngirici.
This group which also incorporates Senator Kibiru, is composed mainly of local MPs including Kabinga Wachira (Mwea), Gichimu Githinji (Gichugu), John Wambugu (Kirinyaga Central) and George Kariuki (Ndia). They have asked the Senate to respect the will of Kirinyaga people and send Waiguru packing.
Ngirici, a close ally of Ruto, is also pushing for a plenary hearing. According to her, the 11 members can easily be corrupted to rule in the favour of the governor.
“They will be given Sh1 million each or Sh2 million and the people of Kirinyaga will lose their money and their will not be heard, we want it to be heard by the 67 senators in the Senate,” she said.
Yesterday, Kibiru and the four MPs said they will be pushing for a plenary hearing. According to him, it will be easier to ensure transparency of the process and “expose those keen to protect the governor”.
“Let the governor face the full plenary of the Senate and she should stop introducing Kieleweke and Tanga Tanga politics in the whole issue. She should let due process take place,” said Kibiru.
The push to remove Waiguru could thrust Uhuru in a tight corner because the governor and PS are both his allies.
Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, who was Waiguru’s challenger in the 2017 elections, has accused Raila and Uhuru of trying to save questionable leaders.
“We have political laundromats that apparently can cleanse all transgressions to the laws of Kenya and overrun all institutions,” Karua said in reference to Waiguru’s alleged meeting with Raila.