Baptism by fire for Kawira Mwagaza as county conflict intensifies
Under two months into her five-year tenure, Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza is already in fire-fighting mode as opposition to her leadership style intensifies.
Mwangaza, a bishop and the immediate former county Woman Rep who defied odds to be elected governor as an independent candidate in the last elections, is facing the first rough patch of her term as the majority of the MCAs are accusing her of ignoring them only days after she was sworn into office as the third governor of the populous county.
Last week, things came to a head after MCAs walked out on the governor when she was delivering her maiden speech at the county Assembly.
Since then, the governor and the MCAs have engaged in verbal exchange with the county boss accusing them of extortion and perpetrating corruption in the county.
The situation on the ground has become so heated that MCAs were kicked out of a WhatsApp group formed by the governor upon her assumption of office.
It was not going to be smooth sailing for the governor elected as an independent candidate and lacking soldiers in the Assembly to defend her although the last one month she has attempted to side with Kenya Kwanza Alliance which boasts the majority in the local house.
However, she is also struggling to gain support from the Alliance’s MPs in the county as it has been reported she has fallen out with area Senator Kathuri Murungi, who was recently elected Senate deputy speaker.
Despite the local politics getting slippery for her, she has vowed to soldier on saying she was elected to serve the people and rid the county of corrupt cartels.
“I am aware of who is fighting me through the MCAs. I know even the day they converged at a local MP home discussing and planning how they will bring me down but I am telling them that I am not a coward and will not bow to their pressure and demands whether they like it or not,” said Kawira.
The governor is coming into contact with the rough Meru political terrain that often pushed former governors into a love-hate relationship with the MCAs who have never shied away from demanding key roles in county operations.
Kawira has promised to run the county her own way saying she will never succumb to their intimidation.
She accused the MCAs of demanding bribes before addressing them.
The MCAs denied demanding inducement to listen to the governor claiming they boycotted the address because she had been disrespectful to them. They also claimed she had failed to give them an audience on work-related issues.
Led by the Speaker Ayub Bundi and Majority Leader Evans Mawira, the MCAs walked out in protest before leaving the governor who continued to read her speech to empty seats for about 10 minutes. Chaos erupted outside the assembly after the county boss tried to address residents before a rowdy group hurled stones at her car and was hurriedly whisked away by the security team.
When contacted by the media, the county chief maintained that she is not ready to offer any single coin in bribes but will only spend the money on service delivery.
Last month, Kawira accused Senator Murungi of demanding a share of her government and for trying to influence the election of the speaker.
The governor has also come under attack for the prominent role her husband Murega Baichu is playing in the county.