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EDITORIAL: To impeach governors, have watertight cases

Sunday June 28 2020
By EDITORIAL

The collapse of the highly publicised plot to impeach Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru was not surprising. Right from the beginning, it was clear that the impeachment bid would not stand. In the first place, the evidence assembled against the governor was woefully defective. The County Assembly of Kirinyaga was in a hurry to throw out the governor and, in the process, failed to do the critical thing — namely; gather and submit watertight evidence to justify sanctions against her.

Arguably, the people of Kirinyaga have valid beef with their governor. Some of the goings-on at the country are deplorable. For example, the long-running tussle between the county government and medical practitioners has undermined health service delivery.

But beyond the accusations, there was high-octane politics. Ms Waiguru’s indictment came against the backdrop of vicious war in her party, Jubilee, that pits supporters of President Uhuru Kenyatta against those of his deputy, Dr William Ruto. Added to the mix is the “Handshake” politics that has brought together President Kenyatta and Opposition Leader Raila Odinga. The rapprochement between the President and Mr Odinga has completely shifted the political landscape and created new alignments.

The tumult in politics has brought down barriers between the Opposition and the government as respective members have changed alliances and created a mongrel that defies linear description. Senior politicians who a few years ago vilified Ms Waiguru over the Sh790 million National Youth Service (NYS) scam when she was the Devolution Cabinet secretary rushed to rescue her. That demonstrates the vanity of politicians; they are unrelible, changing perspectives with the political dynamics.

Significantly, however, impeachments are being handled poorly. In the Waiguru case, her tormentors, the Kirinyaga MCAs, were imprudent in their approach. They tapped on unsubstantiated facts, put together charges without supportive evidence and threw in emotions to the plaint. At any rate, whenever MCAs bring out charges against a governor, there are underlying selfish interests, mostly grudges for being locked out from skimming off county resources. Hardly are they sincere in their pursuit.

The tragedy of the Kirinyaga case is that an opportunity for redressing the governance challenge has been lost. Since introduction of devolution in 2013, only one out of five governors presented before the Senate has been successfully impeached.

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The framers of the Constitution created the proviso for impeachment to give the citizens’ a platform for redress, to rein in rogue governors. It was not meant to be a tool for political brinkmanship. Thus, any bid to impeach a governor must be thought through, backed with evidence and meticulously executed.

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