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February 19, 2019

MCAs meet to impeach Elachi and discuss Sonko’s conduct

MCA's seen in Nairobi county assembly. /Monicah Mwangi
MCA's seen in Nairobi county assembly. /Monicah Mwangi

City MCAs will hold a special sitting today to discuss "salient matters bedevilling the county government".

They say the endless internal wrangles and leadership problems in the county assembly and the executive are threatening to hamper services.

The MCAs, who are currently on recess, have been holding kamukunjis since Monday.

Jubilee MCAs were the first to hold a meeting on Monday, while their NASA counterparts met the following day. They held a joint meeting yesterday and agreed to hold a special session today.

Key in the agenda is Governor Mike Sonko's "deliberate and apparent reluctance" to appoint a deputy governor—nine months since the office fell vacant.

Polycarp Igathe resigned as Deputy Governor in January, saying he had failed to earn the governor's trust. Despite the Supreme Court giving him an okay and MCAs piling pressure on him to pick a deputy, Sonko is yet to pick a replacement.

Speaker Beatrice Elachi yesterday confirmed receiving the members' petition to gazette the sitting. MCAs who spoke to the Star said they have outlined issues that touch on the county's management and leadership.

We will discuss the state of the county government and members' welfare. We have been meeting since Monday and everything will be laid bare tomorrow [today],” Majority leader Abdi Guyo said.

Minority whip Peter Imwatok said, Nairobi must be given direction from the assembly to the county government. We cannot be living in guesswork and massaging people's egos. We need to wake up or else Nairobians will slay us. Things are not right.”

In May, the MCAs rejected Sonko's nomination of controversial lawyer Miguna Miguna. But speaking in a radio show two weeks ago, Sonko said he nominated Miguna out of respect for the Supreme Court advisory.

Some MCAs and residents have said services such as garbage collection and provision of water are below par.

The county legislators will also discuss Sonko's conduct and leadership, including his random dismissal of staff and closure of public offices. This habit, they said, has denied the public services.

Nearly half of the offices at City Hall been locked and the reason given is that their holders were suspended over corruption. Which law allows the governor to close public offices?” a Jubilee MCA said off the record.

City Hall employees work in fear because of the governor's random suspensions and impromptu office raids.

In previous interviews Sonko has defended his leadership style, saying it is his way of fighting corruption which is entrenched at the county headquarters.

Sonko has suspended more than 300 county employees over corruption allegations since he took over from Evans Kidero in August last year.

Many offices in the procurement, lands, planning, finance and legal departments have been locked after their occupiers were sent home.

The issue of Sonko running the county government from his rural home in Machakos as well as his "unbecoming conduct of recording and setting us up with the DCI and DPP" are also on the agenda.

Two week ago, Parklands MCA Jayendra Malde was arrested, in what appeared as a set-up, by the EACC for attempting to extort Sh5.7 million from a businessman.

Elachi's conduct will come up for discussion. The MCAs say she wrote to the EACC to investigate 19 members of the Labour committee after an audio recording claiming that they received bribes emerged.

“The speaker has to be questioned. Things are not right in the county assembly. The DCI and EACC are all over the place and we don't know what is happening. We cannot pretend and bury our heads in the sand [as if] things are [alright] yet we [are] summoned everyday to the EACC,” a member said.

They accuse the speaker of condemning the assembly in the media as a corrupt place. Two weeks ago, five county officers were charged with allegedly colluding to defraud the county of Sh900,000.

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