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ASSEMBLY, EXECUTIVE A SHAMBLES

Sonko’s charges cap year of turmoil in city’s governance

Despite bearing legislative and oversight roles, city MCAs have spent the year wrangling over leadership posts, while the governor blamed county problems on cartels

In Summary

• It has been a year of more chaos than service from leaders in the county assembly and executive

• The drama has revolved around Governor Sonko, Speaker Elachi and ousted majority leader Abdi Guyo

City MCAs disperse after their press conference was interrupted by their rival counterparts at City Hall on October 29
City MCAs disperse after their press conference was interrupted by their rival counterparts at City Hall on October 29
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

The leadership Nairobians voted into power in 2017 has crumbled like a house of cards. Governor Mike Sonko has been barred from office over corruption charges, while his deputy is long gone and never replaced.

Moreover, the county executive committee is in limbo with most officers sacked or suspended, and majority of the remaining ones serving in acting capacity.

The chaos extends to the county assembly, where the speaker and majority leader have been the subject of clashes between ward representatives all year.

 

Meanwhile, Nairobians have been grappling with piling garbage, water shortages and rising insecurity, with Sonko routinely blaming cartels for county problems.

 

On the legislative front, the year had been going smoothly until the surprise return of Speaker Beatrice Elachi to the assembly premises.

On October 9, Elachi, who had been away from the assembly for almost a year, made a comeback after fighting off attempts by MCAs to kick her out of office.

 
 

The return was well-planned, with the fallout of Sonko and since-removed majority leader Abdi Guyo making it easier for her to return as she received the governor's support.

Full of power, energy and ready to finish her work, the former nominated senator said she was ready to come and take over from where she left off.

Elachi had been away since last year in September, following her impeachment.

Speaker Beatrice Elachi at the Nairobi County Assembly chambers on October 9
Speaker Beatrice Elachi at the Nairobi County Assembly chambers on October 9
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

However, after a battle in courts, she was reinstated, and the MCAs had vowed not to allow her back.

For her own reasons, she chose to keep away from the assembly and exert her energies in the Embrace movement.

 

However, It was not all a welcoming party as her return was greeted with chaos, tear gas and destruction of property.

Anti-Elachi MCAs, led by Guyo who represents Matopeni ward, tried to resist her comeback , while pro-Elachi MCAs insisted she is there to stay.

 
 

After clashes broke out, the presence of 'unknown' people within the assembly became the talk of the town.

The chaos prompted the Jubilee party to summon the MCAs, where it was agreed that Elachi is back as the speaker and calm prevailed.

The office of the County Assembly clerk after it was barricaded on Tuesday
NO ENTRY: The office of the County Assembly clerk after it was barricaded on Tuesday
Image: MAUREEN KINYANJUI

COURTROOM BATTLES

The calm was short-lived. The wrangles in the county assembly took a legal twist as individuals headed to the corridors of justice.

It all started when changes were made on October 18 and 22 in the County Assembly Service Board, where Hamza MCA Mark Ndung'u and Nairobi West MCA Maurice Gare were nominated to sit at the board by Jubilee and ODM parties respectively to replace majority leader Abdi Guyo and minority leader Elias Otieno.

As part of the new changes, on October 24, the new board decided to send county assembly clerk Jacob Ngwele on a one-month compulsory leave to give way to investigations into allegations of an attempt to sabotage assembly operations.

However, Ngwele did not go down without a fight. He sued Speaker Elachi and the Nairobi County Assembly Board for disobeying a court order by suspending and sending him on a one-month compulsory leave, and thereafter appointing Monica Muthami acting clerk on October 30.

Police at City Hall as chaos broke out after majority leader Abdi Guyo tried to access the building on November 11
Police at City Hall as chaos broke out after majority leader Abdi Guyo tried to access the building on November 11
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

On October 29, chaos once again rocked the assembly as the battle for control of the House raged on. Rival factions engaged in kicks, blows and shouting matches.

At the centre of the drama was the planned impeachment of Speaker Elachi and majority leader Abdi Guyo, the composition of the assembly’s new board and the sending of Ngwele on a one-month compulsory leave.

On November 5, MCAs revoked the appointment through a motion of privilege and sent Clerk Ngwele packing, despite a 2017 court order confirming his appointment.

However, on November 27, the court suspended the decision of the revocation, and Ngwele was ordered to get back to office.

Majority leader Abdi Guyo (third left) outside City Hall
Majority leader Abdi Guyo (third left) outside City Hall
Image: FILE

FIGHT FOR OFFICE

The chaos within the assembly reached its climax on November 11, when the fight for office occupancy was once again rocked with tear gas.

This time round, the office of the speaker was not under siege, but police battled MCAs who wanted to eject the former majority leader Abdi Guyo from office.

A week earlier, some Jubilee MCAs allied to Speaker Beatrice Elachi had staged a coup, replacing the majority leader with Dandora III MCA Charles Thuo.

The MCAs engaged each other in running battles from 9am, with the two rival factions later accusing each other of causing the mayhem.

Guyo claimed he was ambushed when unknown 'goons' attempted to lock him from accessing his office.

What followed later was tear gas canisters hurled at him to push him out of the office.

“I don’t know how they got the tear gas canisters. But I want to ask those who want me out of office to follow the law. They should call for [the] Jubilee caucus and let the MCAs vote me out. They should not use shortcuts or goons to eject me,” Guyo said.

On the other side, Thuo accused Guyo of using unknown people and goons to hinder him from carrying out his duties as the new majority leader.

“He walked in with some goons and one of them even sprayed my eyes with pepper as I was discharging my duties as the majority leader, even though members had overwhelmingly voted for me to take over the role,” he said.

After almost four hours of tear gas inhalation and MCAs exchanging words, the police managed to solve the situation by ordering all MCAs out of the assembly premises.

LEADERSHIP CHANGE

To tame the chaos and wrangles of power in the assembly, both Jubilee and ODM parties decided to change their leaders in the county assembly.

On November 12, through the party's secretary general Raphel Tuju, Jubilee effected a change of leadership at the assembly, installing new leaders.

In the new lineup endorsed by the ruling party, Guyo and South MCA Waithera Chege were ousted from their positions as the majority leader and majority whip respectively.

The two were replaced by Dandora III MCA Charles Thuo and nominated MCA June Ndegwa respectively.

However, it was not revealed if there was a petition from a Jubilee member on removal of the leadership and the number of Jubilee MCAs who appended their signatures to remove Guyo and Chege from office.

Three days later, on November 14, the minority side of the house, consisting of NASA-affiliated MCAs, via petition presented by Clarence Munga, 43 Nasa MCAs appended their signatures to remove Kileleshwa MCA Elias Otieno as the minority leader.

Otiweno was accused of disrespecting the women leadership and supporting the ANC party candidate, Eliud Owalo, in the Kibera by-election.

Less than 24 hours later, ODM appointed Karen MCA David Mberia as the new minority leader.

When the MCAs resume their plenary session in February next year, Nairobi voters will be keen to see what awaits them. Will the drama prevail again or will the house be united as it was back in 2017, when the second assembly was opened?

Edited by T Jalio