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Elachi adjourns assembly as MCAs persist with impeachment plans

Speaker adjourns assembly although Clerk Ngwele insists she is suspended pending impeachment motion outcome

In Summary

• Elachi claims some legislators and goons are disrupting sittings. 

•  Ngwele asked the speaker to appear before the assembly plenary on Tuesday, August 4 at 10am.

Speaker of the Nairobi County Assembly Beatrice Elachi during the plenary on June 11, 2020.
HOT SEAT: Speaker of the Nairobi County Assembly Beatrice Elachi during the plenary on June 11, 2020.
Image: MAUREEN KINYANJUI

Nairobi Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi has suspended sittings until September while MCAs say plans to impeach her are on course.

Elachi says some legislators and goons are trying to disrupt sittings.

On Tuesday some MCAs tried to serve her with a notice of censure but police dispersed them with tear gas.

 
 

This is their second attempt to impeach her since 2018.

“Consequently, the Assembly stands adjourned until after the long recess on Tuesday, September 8, 2020, in accordance with the assembly calendar. This adjournment applies to all committees. Accordingly, no person shall be allowed in the assembly precincts apart from a few staff,” Elachi said.

The assembly was scheduled to break for August.

However, pro-impeachment MCAs and Clerk Jacob Ngwele emphasised that in the meantime Elachi stands suspended. She cannot exercise any duty, pending outcome of the impeachment motion against her.

The County Governments (Amendment) Act, 2020 provides that the speaker shall not perform any office functions pending resolution of the county assembly.

In a letter to Elachi, Ngwele said she was being notified of the notice of censure motion against her. He said he had been served by the sponsor of the censure motion, Nominated MCA Silvia Museiya, on Tuesday morning.

He said the notice complied with the law and Standing Orders and therefore qualified to be tabled.

 
 

“Accordingly, the purpose of this letter is first, to notify you of the Notice of Motion, secondly, to avail you the opportunity to prepare a response, if any, and thirdly, to invite you to appear before the county assembly plenary on Tuesday, August 4, at 10am,” the letter reads.

“Please note that under the section 11(6), the notice of motion having garnered the requisite one-third of signatures of all MCAs, you are hereby suspended from the service of the county assembly until the House dispenses with the motion within the statutory timelines provided for above,” Ngwele wrote.

On Tuesday, 59 MCAs had signed the censure motion, which was seen by the Star. Only 42 signatures are required for a notice of impeachment to be tabled before the assembly.

The MCAs cite at least six grounds for their renewed push to remove Elachi.

They include militarisation of the assembly, referring to the presence of police; abuse of office, illegal appointment of the assembly clerk, impunity, poor leadership, financial irregularities, victimisation of MCAs and assembly staff and disregard for the law.

She dismisses the allegations.

In September 2018, Elachi was impeached for the first time with 102 out 122 MCAs voting for her removal.

She was accused of financial irregularities, abuse of office, incompetence and poor leadership. However, 13 months later, the speaker made a comeback after the court quashed the impeachment.

After her comeback, MCAs were divided for and against her.

Elachi has blamed her woes on Governor Mike Sonko, who played a part in her comeback last year.

“I am not immune from impeachment. Coming into this establishment I knew it was a possibility. But this one is a battle between Governor Sonko and Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) director Mohamed Badi and I have now been roped in,” she said.

Elachi also said Sonko was behind the return of Jacob Ngwele as clerk to forestall his own pending impeachment that had been halted by the courts.

“I know he is behind this because he has been using Ngwele in all his court cases. He must now be very angry because he knows there is a new clerk [Edward Gichana] who was sworn-in and [he knows] that his impeachment can come out of the court now, that is the war he has with me,” she said.

A court suspended Edward Gichana’s appointment as clerk and swearing-in by Elachi earlier this week.

In February, the Employment and Labour Relations Court suspended Sonko’s impeachment until due process was followed.

The court directed the county assembly adheres to Standing Orders 67 and 72.

On Monday, legislators allied to Elachi said they will go after Sonko, whom they accuse of being behind the speaker’s woes.

“We are going to start the process tomorrow because he has let us down and we have got nothing to do with him. He should allow [NMS boss] Badi to continue serving the people of Nairobi,” Embakasi MCA Michael Ogada, said.

His counterpart June Ndegwa, said, "For the past few weeks, Nairobians have witnessed a resurgent Mike Mbuvi Sonko behaving like a wounded cat pursuing revenge... we are no strangers to these theatrics."

(Edited by V. Graham)