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Even in death, Governor Gachagua stirs up controversy with MCAs

Residents prepare firewood at the home of the late Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua at Hiriga village in Mathira on Saturday ahead of his burial today. [PHOTO: KIBATA KIHU/STANDARD]

Fallen Governor Nderitu Gachagua never shied away from controversy. Even when he was ill, Gachagua still took his political rivals head-on.

He survived an impeachment after the Senate thwarted attempts by Members of the County Assembly to remove him from office.

Gachagua often clashed with local MCAs and parliamentarians some of whom have expressed their dislike for him, even in death. They said wounds Gachagua inflicted on them are yet to heal and therefore they will skip his burial today.

To add insult to injury, some comments by Gachagua’s younger brother, Rigathi Gachagua, are said to have angered some MCAs further. Some of them said they feel they will not be safe at the former governor’s burial.

At one point, Gachagua blamed the challenges faced by residents on the calibre of MCAs, comments that were not taken kindly.

What appears to have annoyed Rigathi were the glowing tributes some MCAs showered on his brother in death when they had clearly demonstrated they hated him.

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While some of the MCAs defended themselves that they praised Gachagua because it is culturally wrong to speak ill of the dead, the younger Gachagua felt they were applying double standards for political mileage or celebrating the governor’s death indirectly and referred to unspecified people as ‘insincere mourners’.

“All the good things you are saying about him now would have been useful and sensible had they been said when my brother was alive. They are meaningless now since he is dead,” Rigathi remarked.

The statement he made during the swearing in of the new governor, Samuel Wamathai, was taken to have been targeted at MCAs, who just four months ago, passed a motion to impeach Gachagua.

Earlier, Rigathi had extended an olive branch to Gachagua’s critics when he declared; “To those who fought him, we have nothing against you. Gachagua had forgiven everyone including those who fought him when he was down.”

Among the first to condole with the family was Mathira MP Peter Weru, a fierce critic of Gachagua.

Residents have also taken to social media to criticise the MCAs for being insincere.

John Maina questioned why the MCAs were showering Gachagua with praise after fighting him. “Just the other day, they were working hard to impeach Gachagua and now, they are terming him the best governor,” he said.

Dickson Mwangi accused the ward representatives of hypocrisy. “Why are they so hypocritical? They dragged Gachagua through mud of impeachment and now they have somersaulted and are singing his praises.”

“Nyeri MCAs abandoned Gachagua a long time ago. We will not be surprised if they skip his burial,” another resident said. 

And during a sitting in the county assembly on Thursday, Majority Leader Duncan Gituanja rallied MCAs to boycott Gachagua’s burial.

This came as the MCAs prepared for a showdown with Wamathai after he retained Gachagua’s cabinet.

“We are sorry but we will not attend the burial. We have received threats through social media and none of the security agencies have assured us of our safety,” Gituanja said.

Instead, he said, they will attend the Devolution Conference which starts in Naivasha today.

Gikondi MCA Kahiga Thieri took offence with Rigathi’s comments saying they are mourning Gachagua’s death, just like everyone else. “The comments were an indication we are not welcome in the burial. But our differences were not personal, they were only political,” Thieri said.

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Aguthi Gaaki MCA Wachira Waruru said: “I am surprised at what people are saying about MCAs. It is as if we are responsible for the death of Gachagua.”

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