Why senators want Mama Ngina Waterfront new board disbanded
Fresh controversy has rocked the newly constituted management board of the refurbished Mama Ngina Waterfront over its constitutionality.
A section of lawmakers from the Coast region wants Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala to revoke and declare the appointments illegal, null and void.
Led by Senators Mohammed Faki (Mombasa), Issa Juma Boy (Kwale) and nominated Senator Agnes Zani, the legislators claim the appointments fall foul of the gender rule.
Out of the 10 members appointed to the board, the politicians alleged there is only one-woman appointee; in a board that requires at least one-third membership of the other gender.
“There seems to be no local representation on the board. At a time when the region is crying for its equitable share of the national cake, the Cabinet Secretary appointed a board in Mombasa without a single person from Mombasa County representing the interests of the common mwananchi ,” Faki said on Thursday as he rose on the floor of the Senate pursuant to Standing Order 47(1) to make a statement on an issue of national concern on the purported appointment of the Mama Ngina Waterfront Management Board.
“As leaders from Mombasa County, we call upon the CS to revoke the appointment and follow the due process in appointing a competent Board,” he added.
Senator Faki reiterated the appointments were made without the relevant legislation and is, therefore, null and void.
The selection was allegedly done pursuant to the Tourism Act, No.28 of 2011.
Prior to the appointment, the CS Balala had published a Gazette Notice No.8552 on 13th September 2019, expressing his intention to appoint the said Board.
Under Schedule 4 of the Constitution, tourism is both a national and a devolved function.
On her part, Senator Zani questioned the CS of establishing a project on land managed by the County Government of Mombasa, and then appoint a Management Board, only allocating one position to the County Government of Mombasa.
According to her, the CS should have either handed over the project to the County Government of Mombasa to fully manage it or appointed a joint Board with the Mombasa County Government to manage the facility.
The senator held previously national Government has funded extensions to Kongowea Market and, upon completion, handed it over to the County Government of Mombasa to manage it.
The same scenario should have applied with regard to The Mama Ngina Waterfront, she insisted.
“I have gone through the said Act and it seems the Cabinet Secretary has not made any regulations that confer upon him the power to appoint such a Board,” the senator noted.
She added, “It is very surprising that the Cabinet Secretary, with all the legal resources at his disposal, could make such a grave error. No regulations have been made,”
While contributing to the debate, senators Moses Wetangula (Bungoma), Ochillo Ayacko (Migori) and nominated counterpart Mary Seneta noted it is against the Constitution for the government to continue appointing people without taking note of diversity and gender.
“In the appointment of boards, this House and the National Assembly should wake up to correct this. It is a practice that is going to kill the fabric of this country if boards will be composed of one tribe and one gender,” Nominated Senator Mary Seneta noted.
She continued, “It is very frustrating, as a country, if we go on appointing people without looking at the diversity of Kenya. We should not have parastatals and boards that have one tribe, one gender and are not even taking note of the constitutional requirements,”
On his part, Wetangula observed that the appointment of the Waterfront board as a clear case where a Cabinet Secretary should be impeached because this is an abuse of office.
“Tourism is half devolved and half national Government. These waterfront grounds of Mama Ngina are under the exclusive jurisdiction of Mombasa County. What business does the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife have appointed a board? he asked.
The Sh460 million facility was officially inaugurated by President Uhuru Kenyatta during the Mashujaa Day and former Shipping and Logistics expert Brown Ondego unveiled as the new board chairman.
While Principal Secretary, State Department of Tourism, County Secretary, Mombasa County Government, Director General- National Museums of Kenya, chairperson Kenya Coast Tourism Association (KCTA) were appointed as members of the board.
Others were a representative from the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, chairperson Kenya Tourism Federation, chairperson Mombasa Golf Club and a representative of the Law Society of Kenya, Mombasa branch.