Senator Sifuna tells off Gachagua over matatu tiff with Sakaja
Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna has accused Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua of meddling with the affairs of the County Government of Nairobi.
In a hard-hitting statement on Monday, January 9, the outspoken senator called out the Deputy President for opposing efforts by Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja to decongest the city's Central Business District by locking out Public Service Vehicles (PSVs).
Sifuna also took issue with Gachagua's recent remarks that he has powers to direct all the 47 governors in the country by virtue of his office, saying nothing could be further from the truth.
"DP Gachagua has in the past few weeks had a tiff with Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja over management of city affairs, which most right-thinking Kenyans have rightfully ignored given the DPs unmatched ability to be a national nuisance. But he has now gone a step further and reportedly declared that he can direct any Governor on what to do," Sifuna said.
The ODM party senator noted that the functions of the national and county governments are distinct and urged Gachagua to keep off affairs of the city.
"The 2010 Constitution, in creating devolved units, made them distinct governments in their own right. They are therefore not subject to direction or control by the national government. The Governors do not report to Gachagua. He has no power over county governments and must desist from interfering with their working," he said.
Gachagua had on Sunday night maintained that he will not allow Sakaja to carry on with his plan to kick out matatus from the CBD.
Speaking during an interview with Inooro TV, the country's second in command insisted that Sakaja's plans would hurt local businessmen and told matatu operators to stay put.
“We need to respect all businesses, and I want to tell all business people to continue working, the William Ruto and Rigathi Gachagua government will not allow anyone to destroy any business,” he said.
He defended his actions saying as Deputy President he is the bridge between the National and County Governments.
“There is no governor that I cannot tell what they need to do…. It is there outlined in the Executive order issued by the president, that I’m the bridge between the National and County Governors,” the DP said.
But while dismissing Gachagua's utterances as tribal blackmail, Sifuna said most residents of Nairobi support Governor Sakaja's programs to transform the city.
"Nairobians have stated unequivocally that they want the city to change. Changing the city cannot happen by making it a large kiosk paradise or a big matatu terminus under the guise of 'Kazi ni Kazi'," he stated.
"In achieving this change, the Nairobi County government cannot and shall not be beholden to tribal blackmail, loose tongues or latter-day pseudo-Mau Mau and their fake 'bravery'. We must change how the city is run and one individual or tribe cannot hold all of Nairobi hostage.
"All tribes in Kenya as well as foreign nationalities dwell in harmony in Nairobi. We reject Gachagua's invitation to elevate some tribes to superior positions over others or his ill-informed," he added.
He challenged the county boss to implement the programs he sees fit adding that the governor is only accountable to the electorate.
"Gachagua grossly overestimates himself and his influence over Nairobi politics. The people who hold sway over city political affairs are known and they haven't spoken," he stated.
"Governor Sakaja knows this fact and should proceed to execute his agenda in the manner he sees fit. He will in the end only account to Nairobians and not Gachagua. Let him keep off the running of county governments and concentrate on delivering the many promises he and the President made to Kenyans, strictly in line with the powers he has under the Constitution."
Last month, Gachagua cautioned Sakaja against making any decision that would adversely matatu industry.
Speaking in Nyeri on December 19, 2022, Gachagua noted that he was the one who instructed members of his Kikuyu community to vote for Sakaja.
He further stated that the Nairobi governor should consult him when making decisions that could negatively impact businesses.
"Na nimemuambia govana wa Nairobi tutakaa chini na yeye kwa sababu sisi ndo tulimchagua. Mimi ndo niliketisha Wakikuyu pale Nairobi nikawaambia wamchague. Na nimemuita tukae chini na yeye. Mambo yoyote ambaye anaamua ambayo inaweza haribu biashara katika Nairobi kwanza tuongee tukubaliane," Gachagua said.
The Deputy President insisted that banning matatu from operating in Nairobi CBD was something that was impossible.
"Hatutaki speed mingi sana, twende pole pole. Sindio? Hio maneno ati ya kutoa matatu nini hio maneno haiwezekani. Staki tuanze kusumbua wafanyi biashara," he said.