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Lusaka orders probe into City Hall chaos

By Hillary Mageka
Tuesday, November 26th, 2019
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko at the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission headquarters in September. Photo/PD/FILE
In summary

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko’s woes are far from over after the Senate yesterday resolved to investigate squabbles that threaten to stall operations at City Hall.

Speaker Ken Lusaka directed the Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations committee to institute a probe to unearth, among other issues, allegations of financial misappropriation, leadership wrangles and claims of a dysfunctional Executive owing to arbitrary suspension and sacking of senior county officials.

The Speaker’s directive follows a petition by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja asking the House to inquire what he termed a “triple calamity” hindering progress in the city.

The probe comes amid a parallel investigation against Sonko’s conduct by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) on allegations of loss of funds at City Hall as well as his “criminal” past. 

In the petition titled The State of Nairobi City County, Sakaja claims city residents are bearing the brunt of having a governor with no substantive deputy, a non-functional executive and an Assembly in shambles.

“The county continues to sink further into an abyss of mismanagement and impunity. As anarchy and disorder reigns supreme at the City Hall, while services to Nairobi City County citizens have practically ground to a halt,” reads the petition.

“The citizens and the people of Nairobi are grappling with a myriad of inconveniences, frustrations and general lack of basic services and amenities.”

Blame game

Instead, of offering services, Sakaja alleged that the Governor was treating residents to all manner of blame game and dramatisation.

Lusaka directed the committee to look at the issues raised in the petition and advise the House on the way forward.

“This is a weighty matter that has been raised by the Senator. I know that it is not supposed to be handled by any Committee, but because of the weight of the matter, I will use my discretion under Standing Order 47(3), to direct it to the Committee on Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations,” he said.

“Members of the Committee will then come back and advise this House on the way forward.”

The Speaker also warned the committee not to be drawn into sideshows that risk bringing the House into disrepute.

“We must be careful about how we approach some of the issues...If one committee is embarrassed or belittled, it is the whole Senate that is in disrepute,” said Lusaka.

Other issues that Sakaja wants the Senate to address, include the delayed appointment of a deputy governor, who he says, would step in should the governor be found culpable.

The senator also wants the House to investigate claims that the revenue collection system that replaced JamboPay was single-sourced. 

 Also in focus is the alleged hiring of at least 6,000 youth who are not under any contract but are paid through the county suspense account.

The said youth, Sakaja says, are sometimes misused politically to cause mayhem and inflict injury on any dissenting voice whenever the county leadership feels threatened.

“Incidentally, the same young people the other day came to me because they had not been paid for a long time,” he claimed.

Sonko has been under siege with the EACC tightening the noose on him over alleged embezzlement of taxpayers’ money.

The governor has been grilled by the agency on several occasions in as many months over corruption allegations involving garbage collection tenders and procurement for construction of Dandora stadium. But Sonko has since accused EACC of witch-hunt.

In the County Assembly, leadership wrangles have persisted since Speaker Beatrice Elachi returned to office.