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Nairobi Assembly wars revolve around Sonko, Elachi, 3 others

Thursday July 30 2020
city

Police officers bar a section of Nairobi county assembly MCAs from accessing Speaker Beatrice Elachi office on July 28, 2020. City Hall, the seat of power in Nairobi County, has seen chaos, running battles and gunshots for many years. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By COLLINS OMULO

City Hall, the seat of power in Nairobi County, has seen chaos, running battles and gunshots for many years.

Before devolution, wrangles among councillors were a permanent feature at City Hall, with the brawls on many occasions ending in blows, slaps and kicks.

Leaders went to great lengths to settle political and personal scores, with some hiring goons to mete violence on their rivals.

In 2010, Bahati councillor Benson Kangala’s teeth were broken when a group attacked him during the clamour for the removal of Mayor Geoffrey Majiwa, now Baba Dogo ward representative.

On the promulgation of the Constitution in August 2010, it was hoped that the new leadership positions – a governor with a university degree, a deputy governor and ward representatives – would exorcise the ghost of violence from City Hall.

COUNCILLORS PASS BATON

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Unfortunately, the dishonour only got deeper, with councillors passing the infamous baton to ward representatives.

Changing the city council to a county government and welcoming more educated leaders has not changed the image of the county.

Though the administration of Mr Evans Kidero brought some semblance of peace, Nairobians were still treated to ugly disputes between the governor and ward representatives or even in the assembly itself.

ENTRE SONKO

However, matters turned uglier when Mr Mike Sonko became governor in 2017.

A month barely passes without the country being treated to a physical or verbal clash between Nairobi leaders.

Teargas, running battles and physical confrontations have come to define City Hall.

At the heart of the chaotic scenes are five leaders.

There is no dispute at City Hall that does not involve Mr Sonko, Ms Elachi, Matopeni Ward Representative Abdi Guyo, Assembly Clerk Jacob Ngwele and or Minority Whip Peter Imwatok.

Mr Sonko does not seeing eye-to-eye with the Speaker, even after supporting her return to office in October last year.

Ms Elachi is always involved in one dispute or another with Mr Ngwele and Mr Guyo – the reinstated majority leader – over the control of the county assembly.

ELACHI ALLY

Mr Imwatok, the blue-eyed boy of Mr Kidero’s administration, has allied himself with Ms Elachi.

He has never grown tired of questioning Mr Sonko’s management style.

Mr Guyo, who is in the governor’s camp, was once stripped of the majority leader’s seat after falling out with Mr Sonko.

The differences among the five leaders have sown seeds of division in the city county, with the assembly always split when debating or making important decisions.

The ward representatives now want to impeach the Speaker.

Ms Elachi was impeached in September 2018 and stayed away from the assembly for several months until a court declared her removal illegal.

SECOND CENSURE MOTION

Governor Sonko has also been threatened with a second censure motion, having survived a similar one February.

The devolved government does not have a deputy governor and no substantive county secretary.

Many employees in senior positions have either been suspended or dismissed altogether.

The differences between Mr Ngwele and Ms Elachi began showing in early 2018.

The two almost came to blows in June.

Ms Elachi would later be impeached while attending a conference on the Coast three months later.

She contested the decision of the assembly in court.

CHAOTIC SCENES

The wrangles re-emerged as soon as the Speaker made a comeback in October last year.

The assembly once again witnessed chaotic scenes for more than a month.

With the support of Mr Sonko and some ward representatives, Ms Elachi had Mr Guyo, Mr Ngwele and former minority leader Elias Otieno removed from the county assembly board.

She then suspended Mr Ngwele and appointed Mr Edwin Gichana in acting capacity. The county assembly now has two clerks.

Leaders the Nation talked to say the fights at the county are fuelled by vested interests, fat egos and settling of scores.

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