Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko came under heavy criticism by leaders and Kenyans on social media over his disrespectful outburst against Woman Representative Esther Passaris during the Madaraka Day celebrations in the county on Saturday.
The governor lashed out at Ms Passaris after the Woman Representative complained about delays in approving a project, and raised concern over the fact that the city chief did not answer her calls.
“I will pick your calls when I am free. I am not your husband that I should be picking your calls the time you want,” Mr Sonko retorted, infuriating the MP who walked out on him.
On Sunday, the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) called for the governor’s arrest and prosecution for contravening Chapter Six of the Constitution and engaging in hate speech.
The FIDA Executive Director, Ms Teresa Omondi, said the Inspector General of Police and the Director of Criminal Investigation should take action on Mr Sonko for the “shameful and disrespectful” display.
Ms Omondi also called on the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) to take an action against the governor for spewing hate against the woman representative, for raising valid concerns on governance.
“It was wrong. He is a public officer and should not engage in such. Unfortunately there is a continuous disregard of Chapter Six by some leaders,” she said.
The incident elicited anger and condemnation from Kenyans on social media who said Mr Sonko’s behaviour amounted to gender-based violence.
Ms Omondi said gender-based violence discouraged many women from seeking political positions.
'STOP THE NOISE'
Following outburst, which was captured on video and has been widely circulated, Ms Passaris walked out on the governor moments after he took to the podium to address Kenyans who had gathered for the 56th Madaraka Day celebrations at the Pumwani grounds.
Ms Passaris had called for a truce between Mr Sonko and Starehe Member of Parliament Charles Njagua. Then she complained that the governor failed to pick her calls on important development issues.
“I have no problem with Jaguar. You should stop the noise. We speak every day, we even spoke this morning,” he said. On the projects, Mr Sonko said: “We shall help you with your projects, they are very good because you want to build toilets everywhere and we have a challenge with toilets in the city. It is true you came to my office and I called county secretary and the minister.”
He also cautioned: “But you are not above the law and have to comply with the physical planning act and the law,” he said.
It was the response on the unanswered phone calls, however, that got Ms Passaris on her feet.
In an interview afterwards, Ms Passaris expressed disappointment with the manner in which the governor responded to her, adding that he stooped too low.
“As a woman who is fighting for other women to be empowered, and fighting for women to be respected and we have just come from a big conversation about ‘Her Life Matters’ I felt he went a bit low knowing that he knows my husband,” she said.
Redeemed Gospel Church presiding bishop Kepha Omae, who is also a senior clergy in the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, condemned the incident saying it was uncalled for and called for tolerance and sobriety.
“Even if there was an issue, it should not have come to the public, it should have been solved in the boardroom,” he said, adding that leaders should never show public displays of emotions.
According to him, if leaders cannot solve issues by themselves, they should engage the church to mediate instead of “washing their dirty linen” in public.