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Embu Governor Impeachment Case: Kenya Senate Defining Moment on Devolution.

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Embu Governor Nyaga Wambora stands impeached by the Embu County Assembly. His case is now at the Kenya Parliament Senate. The Senate will have to decide on the fate of the Governor. This is the first case since the Kenya Senate and County Governments were constituted and created by Kenya Constitution 2010. This is seen as the defining moment on devolution by Kenya Senate performs as it performs the role as per Kenya Constitution and Acts passed by Parliament. The Kenya public and indeed the World will be following very closely to see the 67 Senators represent the public interest, accord the Governor his rights, and strengthen rather than weaken devolution. In trying to look at this we set up a eight questions.

What does the Kenya public expect?

The Kenya public will expect and will be looking to see the Senate define and perform this role perfectly. The first part is approaching this as constitutional case rather than a political debate. Currently the Governor is part of Jubilee Coalition and the impeachers are also part of Jubilee coalition. The public expects to see the Jubilee coalition treat this as a constitution case. The public will also expect the senate to be neutral, follow a clear procedure and clear rules as currently defined or as set by constitution. The public will expect this to be done publicly so they can learn of what the accusations are.

What will the World Community expect?

The world has become one global community and what happens in one region can adversely affect a community in another place. The world, especially the diplomats and foreign embassies in Kenya, will be looking to see how the senate leaders approach this case that county assembly leaders have already made a decision on. Like the Kenya public, the World community will expect a thorough and mature process. It is sad that this comes following reports that some Senators are still considered as supporters of impunity and corruption and are not welcome to meeting with leaders of countries that abhor this moral failure.    

What are the risks involved for the Senate and Country?

The major risk the Senate faces is the public viewing the Senate as useless body based on how they approach this case. Each Senator has to clearly understand that two-thirds of County Assembly reached a decision that the Governor was not acting in the interest of the public. The Embu County public did not come out in defense of the Governor. Whereas these two facts are not supposed to influence the decision of a Senator; they nevertheless should inform a Senator not to take this lightly. If the Kenya citizens view and start commenting that the Senate is not worthy the amount it is been paid, this will be a sad day for Kenya.   

Can the Governor Survive?

Currently there is no significant reporting of support of the Governor. However, this does not mean that he cannot survive. For the Governor to survive he will have to understand the case perfectly as he alone knows what led the County Assembly to impeach him. He will have to find a way to address these issues and if need be take responsibility as needed. He may have to quickly become a constitutional expert and use the constitution to defend himself. The only thing that can save the Governor is if he is able to show his understanding of the constitution perfectly and based on the constitution show he has not made a constitutional error. Jesus was crucified by the public even when he performed good deeds. The Governor will have to proof his deeds were good deeds.

Who bears the burden of proof?

Currently the Governor stands impeached by the County Assembly. The Governor based on this fact is considered as having violated the trust of Embu County residents and the oath of office that comes from Kenya Constitution. Unlike in a criminal proceeding where a suspect is accorded the right of innocence until proven guilty, right to remain silent and other rights; in this case the burden of proof of innocence rests with the Governor. The tricky part here is that if there is a evidence that can establish the criminal case rather than convict himself with his own words and end up in jail for many years he would rather resign and get the rights in a criminal proceeding which would give the burden of proof to the State.    What is the effect of Devolution?

The case will have either positive or negative effect on devolution, and this based on how the Senate conducts the case. If the Senators are seen to be considering public interest first and willing to defend public interest through taking the case seriously devolution will be strengthened for the Senate through this case will send a strong message to all Governors. The case could also trigger other counties to look at their Governors afresh. If the Senate conducts the case with the goal of not triggering other cases and over 60% of Kenyans do not like this, the Senate will have destroyed devolution. 

Does this affect the County Development Board bill?

The Senators who have proposed the bill will try to justify the County Development Board is the best approach. The problem is we currently have counties like Machakos County that are working perfectly. The question every Senator should answer is: If Kenya public were asked, “Which would you prefer a County Development Board where a County Senator leads development of the current model created by the constitution where a Governor leads development and if the Governor fails he is impeached like Embu County?” 

How can Governors protect themselves from impeachment?

The current system has the Governor as the Executor and the county assembly as the legislators. The first step to protect oneself is the Governor having bills that are well written that execute the County budget. The second thing is to make this accessible to the public. Whereas the whole public will not see this just a few independent persons are enough to say they have read the bills and do not see anything wrong. The next step is to be content with pay awarded and not use office for personal enrichment.  If this case ends up where the Embu Governor is recorded asking for a bride then once removed from office he will be prosecuted and will end up in jail. To imagine one given a contract of five years with benefits and squandering this for one wanted more, will be a wakening moment for Kenya leaders. 

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