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Crisis looms as city MCAs kick out county assembly clerk

Wednesday November 6 2019

Office of the Nairobi County Assembly clerk

The office of the Nairobi County Assembly Clerk Jacob Ngwele on November 6, 2019 after it was blocked by MCAs who kicked him out saying his appointment was illegal. PHOTO | COLLINS OMULO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

COLLINS OMULO
By COLLINS OMULO
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A crisis is looming at the Nairobi County Assembly with critical services facing total paralysis after MCAs kicked out Clerk Jacob Ngwele.

This comes after the ward representatives, in a motion of privilege on Tuesday, revoked the appointment of Mr Ngwele as the assembly’s clerk on grounds of gross violation of Section 18(2) of the County Assembly Services Act.

The clerk, who is the chief accounting officer of the assembly, is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the assembly and the action by the MCAs now risks grinding to a halt payment of salaries of county staff, the MCAs and ward office staff.

IN OFFICE ILLEGALLY

The mover of the motion, Nairobi West MCA Maurice Gari, claimed that the name of the clerk was not tabled on the floor of the assembly for approval hence Mr Ngwele is in office illegally.

The MCAs went on to blockade the office of the clerk using wooden planks nailed on the door.

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Speaking on his ouster, the clerk said that the action by the county legislators is likely to see 140 assembly employees, 123 MCAs and over 300 ward office staff risk going without salaries as he cannot access his office to discharge duties pertaining to being the chief accounting officer of the assembly.

MEDICAL COVER

“The MCAs and the staff also risk going without medical cover as we had only one month grace period, which ends today (Wednesday) to sort the issue,” said Mr Ngwele.

He faulted his removal from office, arguing that Sections 22 and 23 of the County Assembly Services Act provides grounds for removal from office and that none was raised by the MCAs.

Mr Ngwele said gross misconduct or behaviour, incompetence, bankruptcy and inability to perform the functions of his office are some of the grounds that can be advanced to eject him from office but not failure to be approved by the assembly as the clerk as he is an employee of the board, not the assembly’s.

COURT ORDER

“The law on the removal of a clerk is clear and there is already an order obtained by consent of both the Speaker and the board not to interfere with my contract until my petition is heard.

“The matter went to court and there was an order that I am legally in office but if they are in dispute they can go back to the same court,” said Mr Ngwele.

ELACHI

A July 2017 order by the Employment and Labour Relations Court – in a case pitting the clerk against Speaker Beatrice Elachi, the assembly and its board – declared Mr Ngwele to have been duly appointed as the clerk of the assembly under Section 13 of the County Governments Act.

Mr Ngwele has not been seeing eye-to-eye with Ms Elachi since her return.

He has also been at loggerheads with the new board and a section of MCAs who have accused him of being behind the woes bedevilling the assembly.

Last month, Ms Elachi – as the chairperson of the board – sent the clerk on a one-month compulsory leave on claims of sabotaging the assembly.

This came after Mr Ngwele sued the Speaker and the board a day earlier, obtaining orders barring his suspension and removal of other members of the county assembly’s service board.

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