Inside the schemes to save or smear Waiguru


Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru.
THUMBS UP OR DOWN? Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru.
Image: FILE


By Reporter

Embattled Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru’s staunch support for the Building Bridges Initiative campaign will work in her favour as she fights off an impeachment threat.

Waiguru is a pillar of the BBI campaigns in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Mt Kenya region and her rising political star has won her a place in the 2022 succession matrix.

As soon as 23 of 33 Kirinyaga MCAs voted to impeach Waiguru, the BBI big guns rushed to support her.

Central Organisation of Trade Unions secretary general Francis Atwoli pleaded with senators to save her for BBI’s sake.

Atwoli’s remarks, coupled with an alleged (and denied) night meeting between ODM leader Raila Odinga and Waiguru, exposed the behind-the-scenes manoeuvres by BBI proponents to save the governor.

The debate that ensued in the Senate on Tuesday, as well as the voting patterns, left no doubt of the battle lines already drawn in the race to salvage or sink her political career.

If the Senate ratifies her impeachment, Waiguru’s political star would be significantly dimmed and her growing role in the 2022 succession matrix diminished or obliterated.

On Wednesday, Atwoli reiterated that Waiguru should be spared, claiming the country was entering a crucial BBI phase that would require her campaigning.

“The BBI report is about to be unveiled. It would be wrong to impeach Waiguru when we need to walk together in uniting the country under BBI,” he said.

Waiguru had been attending all the BBI rallies across the country and would be prominent as the face of the initiative in Mt Kenya.

To save Waiguru, the BBI proponents – who also support the handshake between President Kenyatta ODM boss Raila Odinga – jumped the first hurdle when they voted for a committee to try her.

That ruled out a plenary ‘trial’ in which her chances to prevail would not be as promising and her critics could have a field day.

The establishment of an 11-member Senate select committee to probe allegations against Waiguru was a major victory for the BBI troops working in overdrive to throw out the impeachment motion.

Kakamega Senator Cleopas Malala, a key ally of Raila, will chair the committee with Abshiro Halake (nominated) as the vice chairperson.

Michael Mbito (Trans Nzoia), Mwangi Githiomi (Nyandarua), Beth Mugo (nominated), Anuar Loitiptip (Lamu) and Philip Mpaayei of Kajiado are members.

Others are Beatrice Kwamboka (nominated), Stewart Madzayo (Kilifi), Judith Pareno (nominated) and Homa Bay’s Moses Kajwang’.

Waiguru needs only a bare majority, six senators, in the committee to support her to win the battle. As ODM has five members, dismissing the county assembly’s impeachment should be a walk in the park.

Kirinyaga MCAs, however, pledged to impeach Waiguru again if the Senate rejects their first impeachment motion. They argue the committee could be easily compromised.

Some analysts maintain the committee route would be the better than the plenary to properly investigate the allegations against Waiguru.

They include allegations of serious financial wrongdoing involving Sh92 million tenders, among other claims.

“The issue is not whether a committee can be compromised or not. It is about the committee being the most appropriate avenue to interrogate the allegations in its breadth,” political analyst Felix Odhiambo said.

He cautioned the select committee to rise above partisan interests, examine the facts and deliver an impartial, precedent-setting report.

Others argue that as the governor is to appear before the pro-handshake dominated committee chaired by Senator Malala, the die of her salvation is already cast, to the chagrin of her bitter adversaries.

On Wednesday, Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, who has been linked to Waiguru’s woes, denied having a hand in the governor’s impeachment.

“I have the right to defend myself from baseless accusations and rumours. I come from Kirinyaga county but I have never declared an interest in politics and I have no intentions to do so. I am a public servant. Why would I engage in local politics? To gain what?” the PS asked.

“It’s two years to the polls. I should have started campaigning if I wanted to join politics. People must carry their own cross instead of dragging in my name,” he told The Standard.

There are reports President Kenyatta was concerned with the turn of events in Kirinyaga, prompting him to raise the issue with the PS.

A radical provision in the Senate Standing Orders and the County Government Act the bars the Plenary from having a say on the committee’s report. This has given hope to Waiguru’s supporters.

The whole House, according to the rules, can only have a say if the committee of 11 says the governor has a case to answer.

“If the special committee reports that the particulars of any allegation against the governor have not been substantiated, no further action shall be taken under this section in respect of that allegation,” Section 75(4)(a) of the Senate Standing Orders reads.

According to The Star the anti-Waiguru forces were pushing for the plenary to fry the governor by exposing the allegations echoing from the past when she fell from Devolution CS over graft claims.

Waiguru, the former powerful Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary, stepped down in 2015 following graft allegations relating to the Sh971 million National Youth Service scandal. She said she herself was the whistle-blower, not the culprit.

Waiguru said she was stepping down for health reasons and asked the President for lighter duties before plunging into Kirinyaga politics.


A team of BBI proponents led by Atwoli is said to have reached out to Raila, urging him to support the committee, not the plenary, to try Waiguru.

The committee would be the easiest way to save her, they argued.

Sources aware of the scheming that took days and nights said execution of the plan was delegated to Siaya Senator James Orengo, who is also the Senate Minority leader, and Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata.

National Assembly Minority Whip and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed is also said to have played a central liaison role between the pro-Waiguru senators and Raila.

A meeting is said to have been organised at an exclusive club in Karen on Saturday night when the ultimate plot to save Waiguru was hatched and Orengo was asked to whip Nasa-allied senators to support the committee route.

This informed Raila’s remarks on Monday denying ever meeting Waiguru at a night meeting to plan her salvation in the Senate.

The meeting attended by Raila’s close allies and a couple of senators also resolved that Raila would remain aloof and make no public comments suggesting he was planning to save Waiguru.

During the Waiguru debate on Tuesday, Orengo executed his orders with the zest and zeal of a soldier with clear instructions from his general.

“Waiguru’s ‘head’ is being demanded not only by the Kirinyaga County Assembly but also by ‘other people’.” Orengo said as pro-Waiguru senators thundered in affirmation.

While the pro-Raila forces were scheming in Karen to save Waiguru, Kang’ata allegedly received instructions from top officials of the Jubilee Party allied to the President to support the committee route.

However, Uhuru did not personally communicate his preference to Kang’ata but the push for a committee by his close confidants left no doubt about where his heart was.

When reached for comment, Kang’ata said senators voted with their conscience.

The President is said to have played it safe by avoiding taking sides in public on the impeachment of Waiguru from his own Mt Kenya turf.

Jubilee’s influential vice chairman David Murathe, who is also a close ally of the President, is said to have played a role by instructing Kang’ata to send nominated senators messages to support a committee problem.

On the other hand, Deputy President William Ruto on Sunday held a meeting with 13 Senate allies at his Karen office to plan how to deal with Waiguru’s impeachment.

One senator at the meeting said Ruto-allied lawmakers were supposed to push for the plenary where allegations against Waiguru could be expressed openly.

“The plenary was to give an opportunity to reveal Waiguru’s past where she has been linked to graft allegations and to prove a case that she was unfit to hold the office of governor,” a senator seeking anonymity said.

He explained they were not putting up the plenary approach in hopes of winning but to provide an opportunity “to tear her apart in public”.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, a key Ruto ally, said they were aware of meetings that took place to scheme on forcing House to adopt the committee approach to save Waiguru.

“It was sad some people held even night meetings to plan how to defend corruption which they purport to fight. Throughout the Tuesday session, it was clear were certain forces that wanted us to go a certain route,” Cherargei said.

He said Kenyans should accept that those claiming to fight corruption are just treating them to a charade.

“We cannot have some quarters where if you are accused of corruption you run to for laundering so that you come out clean,” he said in reference to Raila’s alleged meeting with Waiguru, days to the sitting. Raila has denied meeting Waiguru.

The committee will to give Waiguru an opportunity to defend herself after it receives submissions from MCAs.




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