Kenya: Waititu to Know Fate at Senate Special Sitting Next Week

23 January 2020

The fate of Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu will be known on Wednesday next week when the Senate convenes for a special sitting to hear impeachment charges filed against him by Members of the Kiambu County Assembly.

Speaker of the Senate Ken Lusaka confirmed to the Nation Thursday that the 67-member House will sit for two days -- January 28 and 29 -- to hear the charges and make a decision whether to uphold the decision of the Kiambu MCAs or dismiss the charges.

"The gazette notice will be out tomorrow (Friday) notifying the Senators of special sittings on January 28 and 29 to hear this impeachment," Mr Lusaka said by phone.

SUMMONED

He further noted that the House has already summoned the governor and the MCAs and asked for evidence supporting the claims.

If one of the charges is upheld, Mr Waititu will stand impeached and therefore cease to be governor.

Of the nine impeachment charges brought to the Senate, Mr Waititu's will be the second to be heard by the plenary after that of former Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua.

Mr Waititu was impeached by the MCAs on December 19, 2019, over alleged abuse of office and gross misconduct, gross violation of the Constitution, the County Government Act and the Public Finance Management Act.

SENATE NOTIFIED

The Senate Speaker was notified of the decision by Kiambu County Assembly Stephen Ndichu on December 23.

The recalling of the House comes after the Senators, at a special sitting on Tuesday, shot down a proposal to form an 11-member special committee to investigate the charges.

Senators opposed to the establishment of the committee argued that a majority of its members from the Jubilee side are allied to the Tanganga wing of Jubilee Party supporting Governor Waititu, a key ally of Deputy President William Ruto.

At the time there were 44 Senators in the House with 28 comprising of leader of minority James Orengo (Siaya), Isaac Mwaura (nominated) and Kang'ata Irungu voting in support of the plenary while 16 led by leader of majority Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo-Marakwet) favoured the committee.

COMMITTEE'S COMPOSITION

Regarding the committee's disproportionate composition, Mr Orengo's team believed that the outcome may have already been predetermined in favour of the governor with any possibility of a fair report being remote.

They also believed that with a Tangatanga majority, the committee would be easily manipulated.

They also argued that it lacked the necessary competence and independence to hear the charges on the basis that some of the proposed names rarely attend House and committee meetings.

What gave those opposed to the committee more discomfort was the fact that Standing Order 175 of the Senate provides that if the committee fails to establish merits in the charges, the impeachment is lost.

REPORT

The committee only forwards a report to the House if the charges are substantiated.

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala voted against the establishment of the committee despite having been proposed as its chairman.

He was to be deputised by Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika.

Those who had been proposed as members of the committee included Sylvia Kasanga (nominated), Mohamed Faki (Mombasa), Eric Okong'o Mogeni (Nyamira), Fredrick Outa (Kisumu), Hargura Godana (Marsabit) Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho) Anuar Oloitiptip (Lamu) Mithika Linturi (Meru) and Iman Falhada (nominated).

A closer look at the list shows that Senators Kihika, Cheruiyot, Oloitiptip, Linturi, Falhada and Godana are affiliated to the Tangatanga formation of Jubilee Party and would have therefore likely saved the governor.

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