Home Africa Kenya: Winners and Losers in Nairobi County Assembly Turf Wars

Kenya: Winners and Losers in Nairobi County Assembly Turf Wars

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The never-ending supremacy battles at the Nairobi County Assembly have become the stuff of legend, and have claimed more casualties in 2020, with the biggest ones being Beatrice Elachi and Jacob Ngwele.

The duo, who have been embroiled in a bitter power tussle since 2018, began the year holding key positions in the county government, only to end 2020 jobless.

The battle between the two would later rope in the entire Assembly, leading to the formation of two factions — one led by former Speaker and Minority Whip Peter Imwatok and the other by Majority Leader Abdi Guyo.

How it started

But, in order to understand this vicious feud, one must go back to the beginning.

The two had a falling-out in early 2018, said to be over a tender for the refurbishment of the Speaker’s house. However, they each deny that this is the genesis of their falling-out.

Later that year, Ms Elachi was impeached on grounds of abuse of office, misuse of public funds and other charges.

Read:The long road to Elachi’s exit

Following her return to the Assembly in October 2019 after more than a year out in the cold, she waged an open war with Mr Ngwele as each flexed their muscles over who was the de facto leader.

Court battles ensued between the two. Later, under her watch, Mr Ngwele would be suspended as Assembly clerk. He was also blocked from gaining access to his office and Ms Monicah Muthami was appointed to act in the position.

First to benefit

Former head of Assembly communication Pauline Akuku, an ardent supporter of Ms Elachi, was the first person to benefit from the wrangles.

She was elevated to Acting Nairobi Assembly Clerk and, afterwards, appointed Deputy Clerk in charge of administration.

In June, Ms Elachi advertised the position of Assembly Clerk with former Nairobi County head of internal audit Edward Gichana getting appointed to the position to replace Mr Ngwele.

Subsequent court battles would end in a loss for Mr Ngwele. Lady Justice Maurine Onyango on October 16 declared his appointment as Assembly Clerk in 2014 as irregular and unlawful, paving the way for Mr Gichana to take the key job.

Mr Gichana would assume office in November, killing any hopes Mr Ngwele had of returning to his job.

Next: Guyo

In the meantime, Mr Guyo and Ms Elachi were also battling each other after the latter orchestrated his removal from office as Leader of Majority as well as vice-chair of the County Assembly Service Board.

In his place, Dandora Area 3 MCA Charles Thuo would take over as Leader of Majority while Hamza Maringo MCA Mark Ndung’u would replace Mr Guyo at the Assembly’s board.

Mr Guyo, however, turned the tables on his political nemesis in April by making a comeback into office, reclaiming his Majority Leader’s position with Mihang’o MCA Paul Kados as the Majority Whip.

In the process, Ms Elachi’s friends — nominated MCA June Ndegwa, Mr Thuo and Kariokor MCA Millicent Mugadi — would lose their seats as Majority Whip, Majority Leader and Deputy Majority Leader respectively.

Mr Guyo joined forces with former City Hall boss Mike Sonko to take on the former nominated senator.

Threats to life

Sensing defeat, the heat proved too much for her to handle, and Ms Elachi tendered her resignation as County Assembly Speaker in August.

She cited threats to her life and family, as well as power tussles, frustrations and interference from Sonko, as the reasons for her resignation.

“Governor Sonko, you cannot go on threatening people’s lives. You also have a family. You cannot have everything, just nurture what God has given you,” she said in a statement at the time.

A new Speaker becomes the boss

The next beneficiary of this stage of Assembly wars would be former Makadara MP Benson Mutura, who came in as the new Speaker in August 2020. By December, he was being sworn in as acting Nairobi governor after the impeachment of Sonko.

In the emerging power matrix, Baba Dogo MCA and former Mayor Geoffrey Majiwa would be elevated to the Deputy Speaker’s position.

The power struggles would also see Karen MCA David Mberia lose his Minority Leader’s seat to Embakasi MCA Michael Ogada, the slayer of Sonko.

Mr Mberia’s deputy Patrick Musili would also be stripped of his position which was given to nominated MCA Mellab Atema.

ODM’s representative to the Assembly’s board, Nairobi West MCA Maurice Gari, would also be shown the door with nominated MCA Catherine Okoth being his replacement.

But just as there are many winners in this political game, there are more losers that have found themselves felled by the wrangles at the Assembly. For instance, Jubilee in November suspended Ann Thumbi, Silvia Museiya and Millicent Jagero from the party for three months for undermining the party.