City MCAs in mixed reaction as jostling for speaker pick pace

With nominated MCAs gazetted, governors have 30 days to call for inaugural sittings.

In Summary

•Sakaja met Azimio MCAs on Wednesday amid accusation that he is trying to influence them to have his way

Governor Johnson Sakaja speak during the meeting with Azimio MCAs on Wednesday in his office. /INTERNET
NO SINISTER: Governor Johnson Sakaja speak during the meeting with Azimio MCAs on Wednesday in his office. /INTERNET

Elected Members of the Nairobi County Assembly on Thursday continued to express mixed reactions over the intensifying jostling for the speaker position amid the delay in the convening of the first sitting.

Nairobi and Mombasa are the only devolved units that are yet to convene the first seating and swearing-in of the grassroots leaders.

With nominated MCAs gazetted by IEBC on September 9, governors have up to October 9 to convene the inaugural sittings.

The delay has seen swirling of accusations and counteraccusation from political actors, with claims that the Kenya Kwanza wing of the divide is buying time to influence opposition-leaning MCAs in the election of the speaker.

Caucusing among the MCAs at city hall has been on top gear.

On Wednesday, Governor Johnson Sakaja met a section of Azimio MCAs in his office in the spirit of what he called bipartisan governance in the interest of the city.

“Wonderful discussions this morning with elected and nominated MCAs from ODM, Wiper, and Jubilee party. We will work together in the interest of the people of Nairobi. #LetsMakeNairobiWork,” he posted on social media after the meet.

The assembly has 85 elected ward representatives and 39 nominated, totalling 124 MCAs. Utawala Ward is yet to elect their representative.

The Azimio coalition has 66 MCAs while Kenya Kwanza has 54 MCAs. Three are independent.

In terms of individual parties, UDA leads with 36 MCAs followed by ODM (34), Jubilee (6), Wiper (4) and CCK has one.

In the nomination list, ODM and UDA both bagged 17 slots while Jubilee had three and Wiper two.

Comments by city senator and ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna have fueled the speculation on the speaker race.

He repeatedly claimed that Sakaja was delaying the sitting to tinker with the numbers and have his way with the speaker election.

“Sakaja is playing games because they want to see if they can show their might with numbers. It does not matter how long it will take but Azimio has the majority at the county assembly,” Sifuna had said.

“Unfortunately, our governor is still stuck in election mode and is still playing politics. For sure, this has to do with the election of the speaker. He has made many attempts to corrupt members. I want him to know service to Nairobians is more important than politics.”

The race has attracted Ken Ng'ondi backed by Azimio while UDA has fronted former speaker Ben Mutura.

The governor did not pick up our calls to clear the air on the matter.

But Kileleshwa MCA Robert Alai thinks differently. He told the Star that while the Kenya Kwanza group could be working hard to configure their path to speakership, Sakaja was not part of the scheming.

He said that the governor is widely accepted across the board and that is why he invited Azimio leaders to the Wednesday meeting.

“I did not attend because I had a patient in the hospital but I understand the majority of my Azimio colleagues attended. I don’t think there is anything sinister,” the blogger turned politician said.

On the delayed sitting, Alai said he does not suspect anything bad, adding that the governor had explained that it was a question of availability of funds because immediately after swearing-in, the MCAs will go for an induction.

“It is a financial problem because, after swearing-in, we must go for the induction and the governor said money is not there.”

Makongeni MCA Peter Imwatok agrees that the governor has no sinister motive, saying that he had engaged him and got assurance that the sitting would be gazetted this week.

"Amidst this, there are those who are claiming that the delay is meant to buy the Azimio-allied MCAs to boost Kenya Kwanza's quest for the coveted Speaker's seat. This is very far from the truth. As Azimio MCAs, we are very revolutionary and you cannot buy us as you wish,” he said.

On his part, Hospital Hill Ward MCA Mark Thiga urged Sakaja to convene the sitting as soon as possible to deliver to the public who have huge expectations.

“Nairobi residents are expecting a lot from us. Our only hope now is that the sitting will be before the end of this week so that we can immediately hit the ground running.”

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