Reprieve for Sakaja as court allows Nairobi MCAs to vet his CEC nominees

Wednesday, November 30th, 2022 20:53 | By
Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja with his deputy James Njoroge Muchiri when he unveiled his Cabinet in Nairobi. PD/ David Ndolo

The Labour Court has allowed the Nairobi County Assembly to continue with the vetting of the proposed 10 members County Executive Committee (CEC) members nominated by Governor Johnson Sakaja.

This is after Justice Anne Mwaure on Wednesday, November 30 dismissed two petitions challenging the vetting that was expected to commence this month saying the case was filed prematurely and there was no evidence of discrimination of the minorities and marginalized.

The judge directed the vetting process to commence immediately without further delay.

While dismissing the case filed by the Association of Muslim Lawyers and the Nubian Rights Forum, the judge noted it was untimely to challenge the nominations since the County Assembly was yet to vet the list and endorse or reject the nominees.

The injunction order had been issued on November 8.

The court upheld arguments by governor Sakaja’s lawyer Duncan Oktach that without the nominees having been approved by the County Assembly, it was premature to challenge the same.

“The nominees have to be vetted by the County Assembly and the said nominations will only become valid upon approval by the County Assembly," lawyer Okatch told the court in opposition to the suit.

Denying discrimination against minority and marginalized groups, the lawyer stated that the petitioner’s agenda in the lawsuit was to create a rift between religions in the County or even to create an imaginary rift between him and Nairobi Muslims.

Okatch said the governor has the discretion to nominate and appoint anyone as a County Executive Committee Member as long as the person has met the qualifications required for the position.

He stated that although Article 27 of the Constitution provides for equal treatment including the right to equal opportunities in the political, economic, and social spheres, it should not be interpreted to mean that the governor has the duty to include everyone in his appointments.

The lawyer said that there are over 47 tribes and over five religions in Nairobi county.

Submissions in court

“We even have atheists who have coalesced as an association. It may be worth noting that there were only 10 slots for the list of nominees for the position of County Executive Committee members hence it was humanly impossible to include all the 47 tribes and all the religions in Kenya,” said Okatch.

“No matter how many other opportunities are availed it will be practically impossible to so include," he stated further.

He went on: "The mere fact that the petitioners are purporting to contribute 30 per cent of Nairobi City County’s GDP is not even backed by any documentary evidence or survey or data.

"In any case, that is not even a mandatory consideration when a governor is making the decision of the people who can drive his agenda forward and assist him in fulfilling his pledges and promises to the residents of Nairobi county."

He told the court that operations at City Hall had been paralyzed by the court order stopping the vetting of the CECs.

In addition, Okatch told the court the orders had crippled business at City Hall since the outgoing CECs cannot perform any duties at the county government.

The two lobby groups had alleged that they were not represented in the proposed Executive Committee as no individual from the Islam group was shortlisted yet they contribute 30 per cent of Nairobi City County’s GDP.

They faulted the governor’s list of nominations comprising 10 CECs and another nine senior employees in his cabinet claiming that no individual from the Islam group was shortlisted.

The nominees at the centre of the dispute include Charles Kerich was named as the CEC for Finance and Economic Planning, Brian Mulama (talents, skills, development, and care), Patrick Mbogo (mobility and works) and former Lands chief officer Stephen Mwangi (buildings and urban planning).

Others are Ibrahim Auma (administration and personnel), Rosemary Kariuki (hustlers and business opportunities), Maureen Njeri (Green Nairobi), Anastacia Mutethia (health, wellness and nutrition) and Susan Silantoi (inclusivity, public participation and customer service).

In the list, former Westlands MP Fred Gumo’s son Michael Gumo was named as CEC for Innovation and Digital Economy while Musumba has been retained as the county secretary.

Governor Sakaja also named David Njoroge as his chief of staff, Lawrence Wambua, who was the former CEC for Environment, as his economic affairs adviser, Elias Mutuma (legal adviser), Samora Otieno (health adviser), William Ndung’u ‘Fazul’ (political adviser) and Washington Yotto Ochieng as his mobility adviser.

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