SONKO'S MUSICAL CHAIRS

Intrigues at City Hall's jinxed finance department

Latest changes saw appointment of seventh CEC in less than two years

In Summary

•In Governor Mike Sonko's government, the finance docket is a hot seat

• Assembly finance committee concerned frequent changes affect performance

CEC for lands Winfred Kathangu
CEC for lands Winfred Kathangu
Image: EZEKIEL AMINGA

The finance department is the backbone of the county government.

But in Governor Mike Sonko's government, the docket is a hot seat.

Since August 2017 when Sonko became the second governor of Nairobi, the department has had seven CECs, either substantive or in acting capacity.

 

The County Assembly Finance, Budget and Appropriation committee has raised concerns over the numerous changes in the department, saying they could hurt performance.

"When changes occur be it cabinet reshuffles or suspensions, it takes time for one to adjust and get familiar with the finance docket. It might even take three months and when they settle we hear another reshuffle," committee chairman Robert Mbatia said.

Vice chairman Patrick Karani said yesterday having different CECs has a massive impact in terms of county operations and delivery.

"We just started collecting our own revenue as a county from June this year and already there is a major decline. This is not a period where we should have interference in the finance department," he said.

CEC for Environment and Water Vesca Kangogo
CEC for Environment and Water Vesca Kangogo
Image: EZEKIEL AMINGA

The finance executive is responsible for money matters of the county and heads the county treasury.

Former Finance CEC Danvas Makori
FIRED: Former Finance CEC Danvas Makori
Image: COURTESY

When Sonko formed his first 10-member cabinet, he appointed Vesca Kangogo as the first CEC for finance in November 2017.

On February 26, 2018 the governor made the first cabinet reshuffle and replaced Kangogo with Danvas Makori.

However, Sonko sent Makori home and named Newton Munene as his replacement. He wrote to then county assembly speaker Beatrice Elachi to reactivate the confirmation process.

In April 2018, Munene was vetted for the CEC position but was never sworn in.

When Makori was sacked, Charles Kerich was named treasury head in acting capacity and presented the first Nairobi budget under Sonko's leadership.

From July up to April Allan Igambi served as the head of finance.

Winfred Kathangu was sworn in April this year and became the fifth CEC for finance.

Immediate CEC for Finance Charles Kerich
SUSPENDED: Immediate CEC for Finance Charles Kerich
Image: EZEKIEL AMINGA

In May, Sonko gazetted Kerich as CEC for finance, taking him from the lands docket and replacing him with Kathangu.

Following Kerich's suspension last month, Pauline Kahiga who is the CEC for agriculture was appointed acting finance executive.

Governor Sonko has however defended his decisions and made it clear that he will maintain his policy of suspending, firing and reshuffling the cabinet and chief officers if that will bring efficient service to city residents.

Acting CEC for Finance Pauline Kahiga
APPOINTED: Acting CEC for Finance Pauline Kahiga
Image: EZEKIEL AMINGA

Finance committee vice chair Karani further said one cannot perform effectively if their tenure is uncertain.

"For one to be serious in the work they do and the kind of mandate the department has, he or she should be substantive in order to effectively plan and deliver," he said.

"This is a vital department and the backbone of the county government. But the way we have seen one CEC in, after three months they exit and is replaced, does not portray seriousness."

CEC for Trade Allan Igambi
CEC for Trade Allan Igambi
Image: EZEKIEL AMINGA

The Utawala MCA said having numerous CECs in the finance department in quick succession affects consistency in terms of execution of the office's mandate.

"The county government plan is contained in the County Integrated Development Plan, which is a five-year plan but is broken into the Annual Development Plan," he said.

"As Nairobi, we have a strategic objective to achieve what is contained in the CIDP and having numerous CECs or people every time in acting capacity, it is not certain that the delivery will be achieved especially in finance matters," he said.