The decision by Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka to support the planned impeachment of Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu has split the party, with some officials warning that the move could interfere with his 2022 presidential ambitions.
The Nation has learnt that top officials are pleading with the former VP to oppose the planned impeachment, which was, however, stopped by the High Court after it issued orders barring MCAs from either tabling or debating the motion.
A source in the party hierarchy said yesterday that a falling-out in the party is possible after Mr Musyoka ignored pleas from close allies to denounce the intended motion.
“We have tried to reach out to him (Kalonzo) to denounce Ms Ngilu’s removal the same way he did in the case of Governor Kivutha Kibwana in 2014 but he has refused,” said the official, who did not want to be mentioned for fear of antagonising the former VP in public.
But Saturday, Kitui Senator Enock Wambua questioned the governor’s move to seek conservatory orders from a Nairobi court when there is a competent High Court in Kitui.
“I find it funny that the order was obtained in Nairobi when there is a competent court in Kitui,” the senator said, adding that the process was already in motion and thus the order interferes with the legislative independence of Parliament.
While Mr Musyoka has publicly supported the impeachment, going to the extent of telling MCAs that it is the position of the party, discordant voices are already being heard from within.
Contributing to the debate on Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru’s impeachment, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr appeared to be reading from a different hymn book when he warned MCAs to do their work well before impeaching a governor.
In a veiled reference to the Kitui case, the senator said ward reps across the country should only proceed with impeachment where there is gross violation of the Constitution and other laws.
“A governor, as a human being, cannot always be right and cannot claim to be always right,” he said, quoting an authority from the Supreme Court of Nigeria and which he challenged the MCAs to acquaint themselves with.
“Gross violation must be understood in various meanings. Gross violation is flagrant violation, a glaring error, nasty, unpleasant, vulgar, crass and severe transgression to the Constitution and the law,” he said, adding: “That message is one commandment that we are sending to county assemblies.”
He also warned MCAs that they must do their work well or their attempts to remove the governor will be rebuffed because of a shoddy job, arguing that the House had already set the threshold for removing county bosses.
“Even if you sleep in the county assembly or plant trees but you don’t meet the threshold, you must know that this House will not agree with you.”
Pressure in the party is growing for the Wiper leader to abandon his push for Ms Ngilu’s removal and focus on his 2022 bid, with the argument that doing so will get him entangled in Kitui’s local politics that may eventually hurt his national stature.
SH5 MILLION SLASH FUND
A lawmaker has revealed that when Mr Musyoka visited the rural home of Mwingi Central MP Gideon Mulyungi, where the finer details of the impeachment were worked out, those present came up with what they are referring to as the MCAs’ kitty, a Sh5 million slash fund whose purpose is to facilitate the legislators in pushing for the motion.
Some Sh1.55 million was raised for the purpose, and among those who contributed were a top party official who gave Sh1 million, a former senator Sh200,000, and two sitting MPs, with one giving Sh200,000 and another Sh50,000, while three other MPs have collectively donated Sh100,000.
“Each MCA has [received] a down payment of Sh50,000, with a promise that those who play ball will get an additional Sh200,000 after the job is done,” said a top Wiper official.
Wiper MCAs are a majority in the county assembly and the push to kick out Ms Ngilu is seen as part of the 2022 election succession plan.
Among the allegations that MCAs have levelled against the governor are her failure to respond to Senate summons, irregular procurement of a stone crusher, failing to sack a county executive committee member and failing to pay statutory deductions to Kenya Revenue Authority.
Yesterday, Ms Ngilu accused the county assembly of abrogating itself a job that does not belong to it, especially on the issue of her Senate summons. “MCAs say it was not properly procured. My position is that this is an issue better left to EACC and DCI,” Ms Ngilu said on the issue of the stone crusher.
On the issue of the county executive member, Ms Ngilu said the person obtained a court order restraining such sacking until his case is heard and determined.
“My position is that the whole issue is political and needs a political solution,” the governor said.