Governor Mwangaza skips Committee summon

Meru governor Kawira Mwangaza Thursday snubbed summons by the county assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) citing the immunity of a county boss to appear before such committees.

The committee had summoned her to shed light over allegations raised by her deputy Isaac Mutuma two weeks ago and the County Public Service Board.

While Mr Mutuma had accused the governor of ordering a freeze of funds to run his office, the board said it had not been consulted over the sacking of workers in the deputy governor’s office.

In a letter to the county assembly, Ms Mwangaza, through her chief of staff, Mr Nchamba Mbithi said she had sought legal advice on the matter and concluded that the committee did not have powers to summon her.

“Whereas section 39(2) of the County Governments Act No.17 of 2012 expressly provides that a committee may require a member of the executive to attend or appear before the committee, there is no corresponding provision in the entire Act imputing that a governor may be called to answer to questions relating to her responsibilities,” the governor said.

She said the only two instances when the county chief is required to attend the assembly are during the State of County address and in defence of a motion for the removal of the governor.

“In correspondence jurisprudence and in accordance with the principle of separation of powers, the President does not appear before sectoral committees of the National Assembly or Senate unless during State of the Nation address or in defense to a motion for his removal,” she added.

However, Ms Gacheri Muthuri, the committee chair said there was nobody who had the privilege of not appearing before the committee.

“When we summoned her for the first time she said she did not have time but this time round the governor has cited a completely different reason. If she knew our committee does not have powers she should have stated so. We will deliberate and decide on the next course of action,” Ms Muthuri said.

The governor is facing a second motion of impeachment after the first was thwarted by the Senate on December 30, 2022, amid a clash of interests among her opponents. The governor is embroiled in a tussle with her deputy Mr Mutuma, area MPs and MCAs who have vowed to remove her from office over alleged incompetence.

Plans to remove her from office have divided former governor Kiraitu Murungi’s Devolution Empowerment Party (DEP) down the middle, with the impending removal of Secretary General Mugambi Imanyara after he contradicted party leaders over de-whipping of members who are supporting Ms Mwangaza.

On Monday, Mr Imanyara indicated that he was opposed to the planned impeachment motion, saying “Kawira is not as bad as you thought. Tuko na watapeli mbaya zaidi (Kawira is not as bad as you thought, we have worse conmen)”, and insisted that before removal of the governor, they should first agree on how the positions would be shared.

On Wednesday, DEP Whip Mr Dennis Kiogora removed the two members from house committees after they declared support for Ms Mwangaza contrary to the party position.

gmarete@ke.nationmedia.com

 

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