Having survived impeachment at the senate, Kirinyaga governor Anne Waiguru now faces the daunting task of asserting her authority at the county assembly and also winning the hearts of the voters. The governor also faces another test at the High Court after the 23 MCAs who impeached her instructed their lawyer to challenge the senate’s verdict clearing her of the allegations. If the High Court agrees with the lawmakers that her clearance was illegal, then she will have to quit as her impeachment at the county assembly will have been validated.
There is also another petition at the High Court filed by the county government challenging the MCAs move to abolish the governor’s liaison and communications directorate. The 23 out of the 33 MCAs who impeached Waiguru while instructing their lawyer, Ndegwa Njiru to challenge the senate’s verdict vowed to shoot down any bill the governor presents in the assembly. With only seven legislators on her side, the governor now needs to win over about 15 MCAs for her to gain control of the house. If she does not succeed in winning at least 15 legislators, her chances of survival will be minimal as it means budgetary allocations will not pass, hence bringing operations at the county to a halt. Another nightmare for her is that the 23 MCAs who impeached her have vowed to impeach her again.
Waiguru will also be forced to sacrifice a section in her kitchen cabinet seen as untouchables led by one Pauline. The untouchables are blamed for creating bad blood between the governor, MCAs and CECs going with what emerged during the impeachment motion and Senate proceedings. The MCAs in vowing to intensify their crusade to kick her out dismissed as untrue the report by the special senate committee that the process of impeachment did not meet the required threshold to kick her out of office. They have also dismissed the governor’s overtures to mend fences with them. After the senate verdict, Waiguru tried to appease the legislators by forgiving them, terming her ouster as a choreographed plan of events that was aimed at tarnishing her name. She attributed her woes to her support for the Building Bridges Initiative and the handshake between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga. To win over the MCAs, Waiguru will need to change tack and endorse a move by the elders from the region to reconcile her with them.
Recently, Kirinyaga Jubilee chairman Mureithi Kang’ara and former councillor Jeremiah Gateri offered to mediate to resolve the row between Waiguru and MCAs, lamenting that the political battle had adversely affected the region. Speaking in Sagana, the elders pleaded with MCAs to concede defeat following the senate decision which cleared the governor. But the ward reps have maintained that the fight between them and the governor is far from over and hence resolved to seek legal address. The governor’s other rivals led by Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua have also complicated reconciliation efforts by pushing MCAs to fight on to protect the resources meant to benefit the residents. Prior to her clearance at the senate, the MCAs had upped the war against the governor when they claimed that senate chief whip Irungu Kang’ata was spotted with her at Castle Gardens Hotel in Nairobi.
The lawmakers through the majority leader Kamau Murango claimed they had information Kang’ata was compromised. Also on the week she was cleared by the senate, two demonstrations were held in the county – one calling for her ouster and another dismissing the ouster as politically instigated. The demonstration backing her ouster was well attended, meaning most residents want her to leave. The fact that police turned a blind eye as the demonstration went on indicates it had the blessings of the provincial administration, headed by one of her rivals, Interior principal secretary Karanja Kibicho. In the second demonstration, the handful of protestors backing her blamed outside forces and local politicians for engineering her downfall. Other political leaders who supported her ouster and are still pushing for her removal despite clearance by the senate include Kanu branch organizing secretary, Moses Waweru, Jubilee party branch organizing secretary, Martin Muthiga and the Maendeleo ya Wanawake chairperson Kirinyaga county, Diana Wanja.
The matters for Waiguru are made worse by the fact that she has been in bad books with four legislators from Kirinyaga, who have vowed never to join her despite the senate’s clearance. The six include senator Reubenson Kibiru, who voted at the Senate to impeach her and MPs Robert Githinji (Gichugu), Kabinga Wathayu (Mwea) and John Wambugu (Kirinyaga Central). Her perennial rival, Woman Representative Purity Ngirici who also backed her impeachment and challenged the senate not to sanitize her, is also not ready to reconcile with her. Waiguru is also fighting Kibicho whose name has featured as the one bankrolling MCAs to end her political career as he eyes the seat in 2022, but the PS has denied meddling in the county affairs. The governor faces the herculean task of winning the voters, most of whom believe they made a mistake in electing her.
For her to win the voters, she will have to work with the area legislators, including the MCAs, who ironically have shown her the middle finger. Waiguru’s lack of support at the assembly was evident when Mutira Ward MCA David Kinyua Wangui moved the motion. Only two MCAs – Anthony Munene (Karumandi ward) and nominated MCA Lucy Njeri – defended her and they were swiftly removed from the proceedings. The other five lawmakers who back her,opted not to attend the proceedings for fear of being ejected. But the governor is now back to work after surviving the impeachment motion. Last week, she unveiled Sh116 million for the establishment of 300 Covid-19 isolation bed capacity in Kirinyaga county donated by the national government. She was at her Kutus office where she urged the residents to ensure they adhere to the laid down Covid-19 prevention measures.