County assembly speakers have become the new punching bags for ward representatives who have resorted to blackmail and intimidation to get their way.
While the first term of devolution saw impeachment threats to governors, the county assemblies members seem to be shifting focus to the House speakers - who have become easy targets since unlike the governors, they do not have the popular mandate of the people.
The speakers have been accused of gross misconduct and abuse of office, with targeted ones now operating at the mercy of the MCAs who have taken control of business in the devolved units, a move that threatens to further deepen the crisis in the counties.
Taking a cue from Nairobi County legislators, who impeached Speaker Beatrice Elachi in September, the upsurge in forceful eviction of speakers from office is now in vogue.
On Tuesday, chaos rocked Homa Bay, Kakamega and Kisumu county assemblies when MCAs forcefully ousted their speakers.
In Kakamega, Speaker Morris Buluma was impeached for failing to approve MCAs’ mortgage and car loans and allegedly using county funds for personal gain.
The MCAs, who went ahead to swear in an acting Speaker, have vowed not to let Mr Buluma and his team resume their roles.
In Homa Bay, Speaker Elizabeth Ayoo was rescued by the assembly orderlies from MCAs who physically assaulted her, accusing her of bias.
The MCAs accused Ms Ayoo of holding the assembly at ransom and making wrong decisions influenced by politicians eyeing various seats in 2022 election.
Nyandarua Speaker Wahome Ndegwa is also a man under siege after being accused of dictatorship and using the House to advance his 2022 political ambitions, besides failing to acknowledge a new House leadership elected during the August recess.
“He frustrated development in the former regime, he is Nyandarua's biggest problem. We are not going to allow him to continue holding the county development at ransom,” Nominated MCA Milka Wanjiru said.
By midday Tuesday, 21 MCAs had appended their signatures endorsing a motion to impeach him.
A similar row has also erupted in Bomet between 11 nominated MCAs and their Speaker over claims they have been sidelined in the formation of committee membership and allocation of offices.
Speaker Shadrack Rotich is accused of playing a pivotal role in the rift between nominated and elected MCAs.
“More than a year after being sworn into office, nominated MCAs do not have offices and we are forced to operate from our vehicles,” Nominated MCA Leonard Ngeny said.
In Migori, Speaker Boaz Okoth is also not sitting pretty as Orange Democratic Movement party machinery train guns on him following accusations that he quietly campaigned for the Federal Party of Kenya candidate Eddy Oketch in the just ended Senate by-elections.
“It is a matter of when and not if he is kicked out,” an MCA who requested anonymity said.
In June, Nakuru County Assembly Speaker Joel Maina Kairu survived an ouster motion after some of the MCAs backtracked.
The mover of the motion, Biashara MCA Peter Njoroge, accused Mr Kairu of denying them funds to go for benchmarking in foreign countries.
In Taita Taveta, a section of MCAs have threatened to impeach Speaker Meshack Maghanga over biasness.
“Some members are complaining that they are not being considered for trips. Some are yet to receive car loans,” Wusi/Kishamba MCA Justine Juma said.
Embu County Speaker Josiah Thiriku has not been spared too, as the MCAs - who have already impeached several officials - have now turned their guns on him.
In Wajir, the standoff between the Speaker Ahmed Ibrahim Yakub and MCAs lasted for close to a year, with the members threatening to oust him. They blame him for the crisis at the assembly.
Baringo, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Turkana, Nandi, Transzoia and West Pokot county assemblies experienced wrangles in the first term of devolution.
In light of the furore, Kisumu Speaker Onyango Oloo now wants Speakers given security of tenure and grounds of impeachment be reviewed.
Nyandarua County Assembly was converted to a battlefield as the leadership wrangles persisted. The infighting has paralysed House business for over a month.
Speaker Wahome Ndegwa, who was barred by the MCAs from accessing the chamber, later adjourned the House on Wednesday.
-Reported by Collins Omulo, Rushdie Oudia, Benson Amadala, Vitalis Kimutai, Waikwa Maina, Wycliff Kipsang, Francis Mureithi, Elisha Otieno, Charles Wanyoro, Bruhan Makong, Lucy Mkanyika and Waikwa Maina