Today marks an important milestone in the development of our system of devolved government. The Senate through this committee is called upon to play one of it is most critical constitutional mandates; that of determining whether an elected Governor should vacate office pursuant to impeachment by a County Assembly.
Let me state at the outset that I believe in the right of the Members of County Assemblies to carry out oversight over the Executive. I believe it is their legitimate right and constitutional duty to impeach a Governor if and when; the circumstances exist to justify such impeachment.
Such oversight processes are essential in ensuring transparency and accountability by those of us who have been privileged to hold critical leadership roles.
However, it must be recognized that the removal of an elected official is a solemn responsibility as it overturns the democratic choice of the voters.
In the case of Kirinyaga County, it seeks to substitute the will of 159,000 citizens who voted for me on 8th August 2013.
Consequently, such a process must only be carried out in extreme circumstances.
Senators, you are no doubt alert to the reality that an impeachment motion is a vastly time-consuming exercise that takes away valuable time of all parties involved including MCAs, the subject Governor, and this House from other critical businesses.
That is not all. It also infects the political environment of a county so severely that very little proceeds in the county when this process is going on.
Currently, in Kirinyaga, budgets are not being approved. My officers are summoned daily and issued threats that they will be removed from office or otherwise sanctioned.
As a matter of fact, in the last month alone two CECs, one Cos and the County Secretary have been given a vote of no confidence by the Assembly.
Critical State officers including CECs and members of the County Public Service Board have not been approved by the Assembly making it difficult to employ staff even for critical health services.
Services to the people of Kirinyaga are affected and will continue to be affected.
Even when this 2 process is over, whatever its result, the negative impact of the process will linger.
It is also an expensive process for all concerned with lawyers and other professionals, tons of documents, witnesses and other attendant costs.
It is therefore not surprising that the Constitution and the County Government Act reserves impeachment solely to circumstances in which gross and serious violations of the constitution and the law, and serious abuses of office are proved to have been committed by a Governor.
The courts have severally and consistently given decisions affirming the need for those seeking impeachment to obtain a high threshold of misconduct and violations of law before they can successfully remove an elected officer from their position.
Impeachment and removal from office was never intended, and should never be based on falsities, innuendo, rumor, hearsay, conjecture, and certainly not malice.
Senators, secondly, an impeachment process is required by the law to be procedurally without reproach; it must respect the rules of natural justice including the right to a fair hearing and involve the people through public participation processes.
That, as my lawyers will show, never occurred in this process. No formal public participation process took place.
The decision to proceed with impeachment despite a subsisting court order was made on Monday; I was purportedly sent an invitation to attend the proceedings on the same Monday, to appear the next day.
Truth be told, the notice to appear was brought to my office at 10 am on Tuesday when the motion was being “debated”.
I was not even in the County on that day. By 3 pm on that same day, the impeachment proceedings had been completed.
It is to avoid this sort of possible malpractice by County Assemblies and to protect the integrity of the removal process that the drafters of the Constitution and the County Government Act wisely placed the Senate at the center of the impeachment process of Governors.
In this process, the Senate is the pre-eminent organ that ensures that the impeachment process is fact-based, has the requisite threshold, and is procedurally fair.
The Senate is also to ensure that an impeachment process is not used to achieve collateral political purposes or push personal agendas, and it is not calculated to scandalize, embarrass, malign and or defame an individual.
Unfortunately what is before you is in every respect false, unfounded, and salacious allegations, which have no place in an impeachment motion.
Senators, My lawyers will be taking you through the allegations that formed the basis of my impeachment.
Without rehearsing that presentation, I must say that the grounds that formed the basis of my impeachment and which this Committee is now asked to superintend are an affront to the very serious process that the constitution and the law have prescribed for the removal of a Governor from office.
The grounds contain allegations that are obvious falsities, unfounded and malicious. They relate to minor administrative issues that would easily have been clarified by a routine inquiry.
How can anyone justify summoning the entire County Assembly and now the Senate where the allegation asserting Gross violation of the Constitution is failing to deliver a State of the County speech at the County Assembly, a requirement that does not even exist in the Constitution?
How does the Senate of the Republic of Kenya be called to sit in inquiries into allowances to Board members, whose approval was made way back in 2014 by the SRC for all Boards?
How can this Honorable House be called upon to sit in review of Tenders which were never appealed by the participating bidders, where there is no allegation of non-performance or overpricing, and no single allegation that the Governor was conferred any personal benefit, or that loss was occasioned on the County?
Further, it will be brought to your attention that the much talked about Kshs 50 million tender does not exist!
Yet they included it in the motion and passed it in the assembly. Further, the allegation of Kshs 30million for the said tender also was a deliberate and false allegation.
There was no such payment. Surely, these kind of false allegations are not only malicious but should not be tolerated at the senate.
You will be shocked to find the allegations even include the purchase of the Governor’s vehicle whose budget was duly approved by the same Assembly.
The purchase was not from a dealer, but from the manufacturers of the vehicle -Toyota Kenya that supplies government vehicles under a framework contract.
Why would the business of Kirinyaga County be stopped as the Senate is called upon to interrogate travel imprests that haven’t even been reviewed at the assembly?
To show the extent of the falsities and malice, the drivers of this impeachment motion knowingly added three non-existent entries to the imprest list amounting to Kshs 4.6 million.
These monies were never paid to the governor, and they have no evidence to show that it did. They were false entries to make and malign the name of the governor. Why else would an assembly do that?
In their enthusiasm to prosecute the Governor they even allege I did not travel on trips where the Leader of the Majority, the chief accuser in this process, was present, and is photographed with me in the US and Italy.
There can be no higher abuse of the process of impeachment, and indeed no higher abuse of the power of the assembly than this process.
Senators, the Senate exists to protect devolution. While this must include strengthening the oversight capacity of county assemblies, focus must shift to protecting governors and county executives from the excessive overstepping of the oversight power by MCAs.
There ought to be a clear line between oversight on the one hand, and, involvement and supervision of county affairs.
Unless the Senate deals with this problem with seriousness, not only will anyone worth their name avoid seeking county leadership, devolution will not meet the intentions for which it was established.
Senators, I wish to make one final point on the need to retain the integrity of county assemblies.
In the last seven years, the Senate has invested significant resources in ensuring that the profile of county assemblies is raised so that they can represent the image of effective government at the grassroots for Kenyans.
This is extremely important because the county assembly is the closest representation of Wanjiku in the lowest level of governing.
It has been the desire of the Senate and those who believe in strong devolved governments to erase the history of councilors in the old local governments who engaged in fisticuffs and other such other unfortunate methods of handling council business and resolving disputes.
It was therefore an embarrassment for me to watch my county assembly members sleeping in the assembly for a night prior to the impeachment proceedings and roughing up fellow members just for raising a point of order.
This sort of conduct brings county assemblies and indeed the entire devolution system to disrepute and must be discouraged.
While we have had differences of opinion with MCAs, Kirinyaga has never been the subject of any actions that would require people to sleep in the County Assembly and convert sittings to violent confrontations.
Finally, Senators, I ask that you look into these matters dispassionately with an eye solely on evidence. I do not ask that you take my position as truth.
I only ask that you ignore media titbits and sensationalising tales. Listen only to the evidence that will be presented in support of the accusations and review the documents we have presented in support of our rebuttal and establish the truth.
You will agree that this was an unfortunate process that must never be repeated. I ask however that if you find that the allegations are malicious, unfounded and were calculated for the mischievous purpose of harassing the Governor of Kirinyaga, that you will declare these processes to amount to abuse of office by the MCAs.
You would then be within your rights to apply appropriate sanctions, which your establishing law and your standing orders allow you to do.
I say this because the Kirinyaga MCAs have made several statements that this is just 1 of 9 impeachments they have lined up to ensure they destabilize the county totally.
While you cannot stop legitimate impeachment motions to be prosecuted, you must give sufficient guidelines that ensure that impeachment is not misused.
It must not be made a tool for pursuing vendetta and the Senate must not be made an accomplice in such endeavors.
Once again thank you for this opportunity to address you.
I believe that truth will prevail, and as is stated in our national anthem – may justice be our shield and defender.