NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 16 – Embattled Machakos County Deputy Governor Bernard Kiala narrowly escaped impeachment after a sitting by the Senate rejected a report by a special committee formed to probe his ouster.
Majority of the members of the special committee found Kiala guilty of gross violation of the National Cohesion and Integration Act and abuse of office.
But when voting time came, on the charge of abuse of office, six Senators voted ‘yes’ with 17 voting ‘no’ while on the charge of gross violation of the National Cohesion and Integration Act, five Senators voted ‘yes’ with 17 voting against the charge. And with that, Kiala was off the hook.
Initially, the Speaker had attempted to postpone the sittings to a later date due to lack of quorum.
But after lengthy debate and with support of the Standing Orders which determined the number of Senators required in order to pass a Motion, the Speaker ruled that the Senators should vote, a ruling that was hailed by Opposition Senators.
Earlier on during the commencement of the proceedings it turned out that majority of the members had supported the proposed impeachment of the Deputy Governor. Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar Hassan issued a minority report condemning the impeachment.
In his address to the Senate, Hassan slammed the accusations levelled against Kiala saying; “the charges are trivial, and they do not meet the constitutional threshold. Matters of threshold are not of opinion. This is the Senate of the Republic of Kenya and it shall not be party to internal squabbles or witch-hunt. ”
This was a position taken by many other Senators opposed to Kiala’s impeachment who urged Governors to tame their deputies so that the Senate does not deal with housekeeping issues.
Hassan’s sentiments were seconded by many other Opposition Senators including Minority Leader Moses Wetangula, Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, Homabay Senator Otieno Kajwang’, Kisumu Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o and Nominated Senator Agnes Zani among others.
Wetangula dismissed the hate-speech allegation levelled against the Deputy Governor saying the Senate did not have the mandate of charging anyone for hate speech as it was a court process.
“The committee is an agent of the House and doesn’t bind the House. The Senate will be failing if we rubberstamp this mischief,” Wetangula said.
Amid the heated discussion were proposals that Parliament and other law making bodies should come up with other solutions to stem fall-outs between the elected persons and their deputies to avoid impeachment as it would then become a trend.
Nominated Senator Sammy Leshore advised the embattled Deputy Governor to find an exit method because it was evident that neither the Governor nor the Count Assembly members wanted to work with him and if he went back to work, he would be frustrated. The Deputy Governor is yet to respond to this.
While making his plea to the Senators, Kiala pleaded guilty to one thing which was not in the charge sheet… that he blew the whistle on alleged corruption activities in the County Government of Machakos. He said he was being castigated for doing the right thing.
Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen was among those who voted against the impeachment.
Conspicuously missing from the late night portion of the proceedings and who failed to cast his vote was Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki.