January 29th 2020 will certainly be a day to remember for the former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu alias Baba Yao after the Senate voted to impeach him. This was the second time the Senate chose to oust a Governor after Embu Governor Martin Wambora was served the same fate in the House. He, unlike Waititu, was able to find refuge in the appellate court that overturned the Senate’s decision.
Waititu’s attempt to fight the charges on a procedural technicality seemed to have worked against him as a majority of the Senators faulted his rather casual approach to the grave accusations. This perhaps speaks to the mindset that politicians have. That they can get away with anything without facing the consequences of their actions. Perhaps it was the narrative that the Senate sought to change having been accused previously of being a rubberstamping institution with no firm stand against the violation of laws.
In his statement, Waititu highlighted the issues of lack of quorum in the County Assembly when the motion to impeach him was tabled and the delay in submission of the charges by the County Assembly’s Speaker to the Speaker of the Senate Ken Lusaka as reasons to throw out the charges and the case altogether.
“When you query the quorum of the Kiambu County Assembly, I expected that the governor and his team would provide an affidavit of the people who did not attend that function,” said Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri. What Waititu and his counsel failed to note was that the burden of proof of innocence was on him and he failed to give a solid rebuttal.
Article 159 (2) (d) of the Constitution says,” In exercising judicial authority, the courts and tribunals shall be guided by the following principles, justice shall be administered without undue regard to procedural technicalities.” The Senate by a vote prioritized justice towards the people of Kiambu County. A majority spoke to their dedication to protecting the Constitution and devolution by ensuring that the counties are led and managed by law-abiding people.
Senate had a moral, ethical and legal obligation to carefully assess Waititu’s statement and evidence to reach a logical conclusion that made sure to protect Wanjiku’s interests. Their decision sent a sounding warning to other Governors to uphold the law. Neither partisanship nor comradeship will save them if ever called upon to take the stand over any accusations.
In as much as the impeachment process is a constitutional process, it is also a political process. It became apparent that the political inclination of the senators was a big contributor to their decision at the vote. But like Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja urged, “Protecting devolution is not protecting an individual. The stakes are the lives of millions of residents of Kiambu.”
As Parliament resumes in the coming month, this what they need to live by even as they undertake their roles of legislation, oversight and budgeting. All decisions should be guided by the interests of Kenyans. The Senate should note that the impeachment of Waititu not only strengthens and affirms their role of oversight and protecting devolution but also boldens County Assemblies to hold the County Executives to a high standard.
The bar has already been set high for what may be a defining year in the political and governance space. Parliament should maintain this energy and choose to be a House that refuses to condone that which is corrupt and immoral.