Although Mr Kimunya arrogantly brushed aside the allegations, dramatically stating at a public meeting that “I would rather die than resign”, President Mwai Kibaki showed him the door and appointed Mr Robinson Githae, the current Kenyan Ambassador to the US, to the Finance docket.


So far, statistics of Kenya’s history of impeachment or no confidence motions do not point to a clear direction of the outcome.

There are indeed many factors behind the push for impeachments, including genuine reasons to punish those plundering the country’s financial resources, engaged in criminal activities and guilty of gross misconduct and violations of the Constitution.

But Dr Khalwale, the former Kakamega County senator, told the Sunday Nation he fears majority of the cases are a result of politicians keen at using impeachment as a weapon to fix perceived political opponents.

“My friend Orengo, who has the highest record of bringing up impeachment motions, often does it for one reason — politics. He did it against Moi and Saitoti, hoping to elbow them out of power, and now Ruto, with the hope of stopping the DP’s quest for presidency.”


The anti-Moi motion of October 1998, which seemed the biggest threat to the Nyayo regime, was defeated after a heated four-hour debate by the majority members of Moi’s Kanu Party.

Mr Orengo also supported Mbita MP Otieno Kajwang’s motion censoring VP Saitoti over the Goldenberg scandal.

That the motivation behind the motions could be politics is supported by the fact that the impeachment manoeuvres are in sync with the ever-changing political realignments.

One of the reasons Mr Orengo’s motion against President Moi flopped was that the Ford-Kenya legislator was unable to marshal the required numbers, including from Mr Odinga, then the party leader of NDP.

Mr Odinga had just defected from Ford-Kenya and was in political bed with Moi.

Today, Mr Orengo is an influential member of ODM and a key ally of Mr Odinga, leading to speculation that he may be pushing the former PM’s agenda to politically neutralise Mr Ruto — something the senator has denied.


Similarly, Mr Ruto, then-Agriculture minister, survived a vote of no confidence in Parliament after a major scare from Dr Khalwale, who accused him of mishandling the maize scandal.

Today, the legislator, who in the previous presidential campaigns continued to link the deputy president with various scams, appears to suggest Mr Ruto was innocent of accusations he levelled against him.

“Unlike Kimunya who decided to respond to my motion in rallies in his rural backyard, Ruto put a credible defence, and responded to my accusations blow-by-blow. I bet he convinced the House and absolved himself from blame,” says Dr Khalwale, a political foe turned ally of the deputy president.

The vote of no confidence dates back to independence time when the fiery opposition legislator Masinde Muliro of Kadu moved the first censure motion against founding President Jomo Kenyatta in 1964.

The politician was unhappy with Mzee Kenyatta for filling up most of the senior jobs in government with members of his tribe.


Elsewhere, the democratic exercise of impeachment, including of presidents, has been executed successfully and peacefully. In the US, for instance, the House of Representatives impeached two presidents — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton — both who were, however, acquitted by the Senate.

Johnson was impeached in 1868 for violation of the Tenure of Office Act, specifically for removing from office Edwin McMasters Stanton, the Secretary of War, and replacing him with Major General Lorenzo Thomas.

Clinton faced two charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in 1998, which stemmed from a sexual harassment lawsuit against the 42nd President by Paula Jones.

The 49-year-old Clinton also survived a sexual scandal involving him and Monica Lewinsky, a 22-year-old White House intern.


Meanwhile, President Richard Nixon bolted out of power in 1974 following recommendation by Justice Committee that he should be investigated over “high crimes and misdemeanours, primarily related to the Watergate scandal”.

Nixon decided to resign rather than face certain impeachment and the prospect of being convicted at a trial.

On the continent, South Africa has provided the best examples of workable impeachments, twice against sitting presidents Thabo Mbeki in September 2008 and Jacob Zuma in February 2018. The difference is in semantics.

In the South African governing party’s parlance, a president is “recalled” through a resolution of the National Executive Committee, which demands that he steps down.

If he obliges, a resignation in the South African constitution amounts to a “vacancy in the position of President”, and a deputy president automatically assumes office as President with all the responsibilities, powers and functions of the office for the remainder of the term.

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