By Prof. Gitile Naituli

Meru county stands at crossroads. Having been forgiven a second time by the senate, governor Kawira Mwangaza is clearly emboldened in her battle with MCAs and members of parliament. She’s now calling for dissolution of the county under Article 192 of the constitution. Sadly, this approach signals that reconciliation is not in her cards. MCAs and members of parliament on the other hand are smarting from yet another humiliating defeat handed to them by senate after a process which they believed was influenced by corruption, gender card and a “call from above” as opposed to the real issues upon which the governor was impeached. 

During the senate proceedings governor Mwangaza cut herself a figure of vulnerability, humility and piety. In a shaky voice, she declared forgiveness to her enemies and promised to bring all leaders together for reconciliation and peace. However, her actions and utterances are diametrically at variance with the promise to senators. Calling for dissolution of the county government is declaration of inability and/or unwillingness to reconcile with other leaders and work together for the people of Meru. 

The governor can continue her war with members of parliament. If the war is premised on showcasing development scorecard, well, one would even encourage the same. Yet, on the other hand, the continuation of belligerence between the governor and MCAs doesn’t bond well for the people of Meru. The governor and MCAs don’t have to be friends. They don’t have to be enemies either. However, their friendship or enmity should not interfere with development and service delivery. Their differences should be subjugated to their respective constitutional obligations. The call of duty demands that certain processes and outcomes must be products of common approach through consensus building as well as lucid and continuous political negotiations. 

Unfortunately, development in Meru has been injuncted by political chicanery, Mt. Kenya region supremacy battles and interference by the national government. The people of Meru have been reduced into mere pawns, abandoned and disillusioned. The only development they see is the demeaning donations under the governor’s Okolea “charity” gatherings. 

They say that when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing is to stop digging. The Meru protagonists are doing the opposite. By calling for dissolution of the county and fresh elections, the governor is replacing a jembe with a bulldozer. In other words, instead of calling for a truce, she’s pouring fuel into the fire. She’s arrogantly throwing gauntlet to her opponents, knowing very well that very few MCAs have the financial wherewithal to face a by-election. 

In a fight between two bulls, it’s the grass that suffer the consequences. The governor should necessarily rise to the occasion, stop the egoistic posture and embrace a collaborative relationship with the assembly…. At least for the sake of development and service delivery to the people of Meru.

Since Kawira’s assumption of office of governor, it seems all the structures and systems just dissolved. Besides her war of words with the so called cartels and Okolea cow donations, no one really knows what exactly is happening in the county. 

It is time to take stock and trace when the rain started wrecking havoc in Meru. As things stand now confusion hangs on the clouds. Kawira Mwangaza should rein on her ego and sit down and have constructive dialogue with MCAs and craft a working formula which prioritizes interests of the people. Calling for dissolution of the county government is a red herring especially considering that there are no commissioners to facilitate the conduct of a fresh election within 90 days. Leadership is about offering solutions as opposed to populist gimmicks. 

Devolution is the Canaan prize of the post 2010 constitutional promise. However, if the wrong people are placed on the driver’s seat, the promise will vaporize into hot air of despair and stagnation. The fact that Meru county is in a big crises cannot be gainsaid. It is incumbent upon the governor to extol the virtues of humility and join hands with other leaders in seeking solutions to challenges facing the county. The hubris of “my way or the highway” must be replaced with consultative governance style. Rapprochement must replace resentment and belligerence for Meru to rise to a higher paradigm of socio-economic growth. The big question is whether governor Mwangaza is up to the task.

Prof Gitile Naituli is a lecturer, Multimedia University of Kenya and a former Commissioner, NCIC


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