The Special Senate Committee confirmed three out of the five charges against Embu governor Martin Wambora.
The 11-member committee found the Embu governor guilty of violating public procurement laws but senators absolved him of accusations of abuse of office. (READ: Embu governor impeached over abuse of scarce county resources)
The governor was accused breaching the Public Procurement and Disposal Act 2005 and Regulations 2013, the Public Finance and Management Act and the Constitution.
On violation of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act 2005 and Regulations 2013, 39 senators voted yes for impeachment, with one vote against and one abstention; on violation of the Public Finance and Management Act, 39 voted yes, with one vote against and one abstention while on violation of the Constitution, 39 voted yes, with one vote against and one abstention.
Baringo senator Gideon Moi voted against all three charges while Embu senator Lenny Kivuti abstained on all three.
It was the first time in the history of the country that Parliament, specifically the Senate considered a matter touching on impeachment of a public officer.
The charges on abuse of office and violation of the County Governments Act 2012 could not be substantiated by the team chaired by Senator Boni Khalwale.
Moving debate on the report, Dr Khalwale put up a strong argument for the impeachment of the governor, urging the Senate to assert its authority as the guardian of devolution and for posterity purposes.
“We must get rid of non-performing officers,” he stated.
His sentiments were echoed by his deputy Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Senator James Orengo who emphasised that the Senate must crack the whip, arguing that the Embu county government was a clear case of a dysfunctional devolved system.
The team also noted that the governor must be held responsible for failing to take action.
The committee ruled that the big issue was on who was responsible for the mess; the governor as the County Assembly had decided or other officers in the county.
It, however, said that while primary liability for violations of the procurement laws may lie with individual officers, the Constitution stipulates that a governor will be held liable for violations that occur during their watch.
This includes instances when the governor does not take action.
The 49-page report concludes that though the governor is supposed to be the chief executive of a region, Mr Wambora was a mere bystander and observer in the procurement debacles that rocked his county.
On the Public Finance Management Act, the committee’s report pointed to a systems failure at the county government.
The Special Senate team said although the grounds cited may not be unique to the Embu county government, the governor should bear blame for inaction.
The governor was also accused of arrogance instead of showing remorse for his actions. Mr Wambora was also accused of passing the buck to his subordinate officers, concluding that he was culpable.
“The governor gave the impression that he had totally removed himself from the controversies surrounding the works of the Embu stadium and the defective maize seeds, leaving these matters primarily to the County Secretary, if not to no one in particular,” the Senate team stated in its report.
The Senate team said that though the governor repeatedly argued that he does not involve himself in matters of procurement, he did not take action.
On abuse of office, however, the committee says the charge as framed was vague and unclear as it did not clearly and unequivocally demonstrate the manner the governor had abused office .
The Special Committee appointed at a special sitting of the Senate on February 4 anchored its report on provisions of Article 181 of the Constitution which gives grounds for removal of a governor.
Senator Orengo said the governor had completely abdicated his job to the County Secretary Lornah Margaret Kariuki.
Senator Murkomen on the other hand said the governor gave lame excuses when confronted with the charges.
“Devolution will be rescued from men and women who are not ready to take responsibility,” he said.
Dr Khalwale said witnesses that the governor brought to testify on his behalf turned against him, and instead gave evidence to implicate the Mr Wambora more. Even the auditor general confirmed the accusations.
“This House will be helping Wambora the trouble and pain of having to be in office when he has no idea what is going on. He will get ulcers for nothing, blood pressure for nothing. We will save him the cost of medical care,” Dr Khalwale said.
In total the committee held eight meetings and two working retreats. The proceedings resembled to a court room trial, complete with examination and cross examination of witnesses by lawyers.
The 11 member Special Committee whose membership was drawn from both the Majority and Minority sides held sittings in the last ten days to determine the matter.
The 11 members of the special committee are Senators Kipchumba Murkomen, Kimani Wamatangi, Zipporah Kittony, Senator Wilfred Lesan, Naisula Lesuuda, Peter Mositet, James Orengo, Senator Boy Juma Boy, Hargura Godana and Judith Sijeny.
The House adjourns to Tuesday February 25, 2014.