Meru MCAs plan to impeach Speaker - Daily Nation

Divided House as Meru MCAs plan to impeach Speaker

Monday August 13 2018

Meru MCAs leave county assembly chambers

Meru MCAs leave the county assembly chambers on August 13, 2018 after a Speaker's Kamukunji. Those who spoke to Nation said an impeachment motion against Speaker Joseph Kaberia will go on Tuesday despite the meeting that sought to iron out contentious issues. PHOTO | DAVID MUCHUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By DAVID MUCHUI
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Meru County Assembly Speaker Joseph Kaberia has held a closed-door meeting with MCAs in bid to stop plans to impeach him.

Some MCAs have been plotting to oust Mr Kaberia, who is serving his second term, with an impeachment motion set for Tuesday afternoon.

Despite meeting for close to three hours in a bid to iron out the issues, MCAs who spoke to the Nation maintained that the impeachment motion must be tabled at the assembly.

None of the MCAs was willing to be quoted, saying they would give their statements in the assembly on Tuesday.

KAMUKUNJI

"We came for the Speaker’s Kamukunji but we are not ready to backtrack. Even if we do not garner the numbers required to remove the speaker, we must make our point tomorrow," said one of the ward reps.

The MCAs accuse the Speaker of highhandedness, skewed allocation of opportunities for foreign trips, appointing a clique of friends to special committees and reporting their absence from committee meetings to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

Some MCAs are said to claim allowances even without attending committee sittings.

SPENDING

“MCAs started demanding answers on how county assembly allocation is spent without success. When we looked into the amount spent on salaries and operations, we could not understand where the balance meant for allowances was being spent. This is the bone of contention,” a ward rep who did not want to be named said.

He said only a few MCAs and staff have been going for foreign trips while the same people are appointed to all committees meant to plan major assembly events.

The dispute between the Speaker and MCAs is said to have escalated over location and attendance of committee meetings.

COMMITTEE MEETINGS

“All committee meetings meant to prepare reports were being held in one hotel in Nairobi. When MCAs questioned this, a directive was issued requiring that all meetings in Nairobi must be held in government facilities,” the source said.

Early this year, a group of MCAs are said to have initiated a probe into county assembly funds, accusing the speaker of not making audit reports public.

In the last one week, ward reps backing the impeachment have been lobbying to raise the numbers required to oust the Speaker.

By Sunday evening, about 37 MCAs had supported the bid while another 24 were on the Speaker’s side. The assembly has 68 members.

Speaking to the Nation, Mr Kaberia said he was yet to receive a formal complaint from the MCAs on the planned impeachment.

OPEN-DOOR POLICY

“I have been hearing of meetings being held in hotels to plan on my impeachment. I operate on an open-door policy and none of the MCAs has come to raise the issues with me. I will be meeting the MCAs in a kamukunji to understand the issues better,” Mr Kaberia said.

But he said some MCAs were not happy with his directives on attendance of committee meetings and denied reporting them to the EACC.

The Speaker said he cannot interfere with the budget and that the ward reps have the latitude to decide on the assembly’s expenditure.

“When I advise some MCAs against actions that are against the law, I am accused of highhandedness. I cannot support illegalities and will stand by the truth. I have not reported anyone to EACC but anyone who does something wrong will be caught up with by the law,” he said.

DENIED CLAIMS

The Speaker also trashed claims that he has a share of Sh19 million out of the assembly’s Sh40 million pending bills for the previous financial year.

The County Governments Act, 2012 provides that a Speaker of a county assembly may be removed from office through a resolution supported by not less than 75 percent of all the MCAs.

“A notice of the intention to move a motion for a resolution to remove the Speaker shall be given in writing to the clerk of the county assembly, signed by at least one third of all the members of the county assembly stating the grounds for removal. A motion for a resolution to remove the Speaker shall be presided over by a member elected by the assembly in acting capacity,” it states.

The Act further provides that the Speaker shall be accorded an opportunity to respond to the allegations on the floor of the county assembly before the debate and voting on a motion.

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