Beleaguered Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza will face the full plenary of the Senate in the impeachment case against her by Meru MCAs after Senators voted to have the matter discussed on the floor instead of a select committee.
The decision was reached after the majority wing of the House successfully countered the minority side’s attempt to have the case heard by a special committee of 11 members.
Senate Speaker Jeffah Amason Kingi had earlier read out the charges against the impeached governor, paving the way for the start of her trial before the House for the second time.
The governor had previously been tried and exonerated by the House after MCAs in Meru County impeached her less than a year ago.
In the allegations tabled before the House and read by Speaker Kingi, the Meru MCAs accuse the governor of several misconduct cases. They range from the misuse of county resources, nepotism and bullying as well as attempts to make illegal appointments.
Mwangaza allegedly misappropriated county funds through her relatives and made fraudulent claims for their services.
The accusations include paying full salaries to high-ranking officials who rendered no services and misusing county resources. The MCAs further claim that the governor favoured unqualified relatives for official duties abroad and key county positions.
Furthermore, she is also accused of making illegal appointments against court orders and not adhering to proper recruitment procedures.
A notable violation includes naming a public road after her husband without following statutory procedures and breaching the Constitution and the Meru County Honours and Awards Act of 2018.
The governor’s alleged contempt towards the Assembly was also highlighted when she instructed her Chief of Staff to send a dismissive letter in response to a summons.
And during debate on the Senate floor, Minority Whip Ledama Olekina championed the formation of a Special Committee, proposing Senators including Abdi Haji, Boni Khalwale, Jackson Mandago, Peris Tobiko, Crystal Asige, Enoch Wambua, Esther Okenyuri, Karungó Thang’wa, Shakila Abdalla, Ali Roba, and Okiya Omtatah.
“Even though this is a political process, whenever we sit, we have the same powers as the High Court. I want to persuade this house to consider allowing these 11 members to hear the charges against the governor,” Olekina said.
However, problems arose when the majority side refrained from proposing names for the panel.
This led Olekina to suggest the same Senators that the Majority Party had previously nominated to hear Kawira’s ouster case during her initial removal by MCAs.
Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna voiced his support for the committee approach, stating, “It is the responsibility of the House to determine if the facts and evidence meet the threshold set in the law for a governor’s impeachment.”
Contrarily, Majority leader Aaron Cheruiyot opposed the formation of the special panel, suggesting, “I propose that we go the plenary way so that we listen, sit here calmly to understand what is the issue with Meru.”
Muranga senator Joe Nyutu criticised the reuse of the same members from the committee that presided over Kawira’s first impeachment proceedings last December.