POWER WRANGLES

Sonko replaces county secretary in bid to take control of City Hall

Urban planning chief officer Kathenge appointed to take over from Leboo Morintat in acting capacity

In Summary

With Sonko barred from accessing City Hall offices, the county secretary is in charge of coordinating the affairs of county operations

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko with acting county secretary Leboo Morintat during the swearing in of executives on November 10, 2017
NO LOVE LOST? Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko with acting county secretary Leboo Morintat during the swearing in of executives on November 10, 2017
Image: PATRICK VIDIJA

 

 

Besieged Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has replaced his county secretary in a move to take back control of City Hall as he battles to remain in power.

Leboo Morintat who has been the acting county secretary since July last year has been replaced by urban planning chief officer Justus Kathenge.

Sonko’s position is hanging on the balance with his removal from office looming large after a notice to impeach him was tabled in the county assembly last week by Minority whip Peter Imwatok.

In September 2018, Sonko appointed Morintat to be the deputy county secretary, a position that is not anchored in law. Morintat was to deputise Pauline Kahiga who took over after Sonko suspended Peter Kariuki.

Kahiga left the office in July 2019 and Morintat took over in an acting capacity. He now remains as the chief officer for public service management.

Since December last year, Morintat has been making trips to the Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to give documents required for investigations into various suspected scandals at City Hall. He has also been coordinating top officers summoned for interrogation.

Sonko remains barred from accessing county offices after he was arrested and charged with corruption.

After the court issued orders barring Sonko from accessing his offices in December last year, Morintat took over the control of affairs at City Hall, chairing meetings and calling the shots.

“Pursuant to the provision of Section 44 of the County Government Act 2012, you are hereby appointed as the county secretary, in acting capacity to the Nairobi County Government with effect from February 20, 2020,” Sonko wrote to Kathenge in a letter dated February 19.

“Alongside this appointment, you shall continue to serve in your current position as chief officer for urban planning as per the terms of your employment contract. You are expected to maintain the highest standards,” the letter reads.

Kathenge was among 16 senior county officials suspended in September last year following the tragedy at Precious Talent School in which eight pupils died. He was accused of presiding over a violation of the physical planning act and zoning regulations.

On January 8, all the officials were cleared of wrongdoing and reinstated.

Meanwhile, sacked finance executive Pauline Kahiga appears to be still in control of the department after she paid Sh166.9 million to Kemsa last week.

Sonko sacked Kahiga and replaced her with trade executive Allan Igambi. But she said her dismissal was illegal. The matter is awaiting an advisory opinion from Attorney General Paul Kihara.

A group of MCAs and goons had stormed the finance office to physically eject Kahiga. Two weeks ago, economic planning chief officer Washington Makodingo was under siege after refusing to make some payments.

“Some rowdy men had been sent to kick me out of the office because I refused to pay part of the pending bills as ordered by the county boss which I know if I did would raise problems. I was escorted by almost 10 police officers to my office,” Makondingo said.

 

edited by peter obuya