Governor Evans Kidero slaps Rachel Shebesh, then quickly forgets

Nairobi Women Representative Rachel Shebesh is whisked away from City Hall, Friday, after a scuffle with Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero (inset centre).  [PHOTOS: EVANS HABIL AND BEVERLY MUSILI/ STANDARD]

By Moses Michira

Nairobi, Kenya: Drama unfolded at City Hall Friday after Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero allegedly slapped Women Representative Rachel Shebesh during a heated verbal exchange outside his office.

Shebesh, known for her aggressive style, had confronted Kidero over the ongoing county employees’ strike, which has paralysed operations, over unpaid salaries.

The Nairobi women representative had earlier addressed the protesting workers outside Kidero’s office before proceeding to the Governor’s chambers to seek audience with him. Witnesses told The Standard there was a heated exchange though it was unclear what she uttered that could have infuriated Kidero.

According to a video footage circulated on social media, Shebesh is seen outside the Governor’s office jostling for position.

A short but heated argument ensues after Kidero emerged from his office, before he is seen gesticulating and slapping Shebesh, who momentarily staggers before men believed to be her aides steady her.

Kidero then retreats to his office as security personnel intervene.

“Kidero, you have slapped me? You have slapped me Kidero? You have slapped me?” Shebesh is heard crying out. The Governor’s action as captured in the video footage — that attracted lots of reactions on social media — was swift.

One of her aides is also heard asking Kidero why he slapped the legislator. After the slap, the crowd is seen scampering away. Minutes later, Kidero convened a press conference where he claimed he could not remember slapping anybody.

No stranger to controversy

“As far as I can recollect, I was in my office and I do not remember slapping anybody, all I know is that there was a scuffle at my office,” said Kidero. The 4pm incident created a buzz online, with most condemning the leaders for the incident.

Shebesh is not new to controversy. She shot to the limelight early this year when she led women leaders storming offices of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to protest alleged removal of Othaya MP Mary Wambui from the list of candidates for the area’s parliamentary election.

Shebesh reportedly recorded a statement minutes after the incident at a police station inside KICC, some 300 metres across the road from City Hall.

Moments later, Kidero also recorded his statement at the Central Police Station. It was not immediately possible to confirm what either leader said in their respective statements. The matter is, however, expected to drag to court in the coming week.

The confrontation stole the limelight from another altercation between Nairobi Senator Mike Mbuvi Sonko and a radio presenter that happened the day before, in a morning show.

But the fracas between the two elected Nairobi county leaders is not nearly the only high-profile case witnessed in recent times. Ms Nancy Baraza was forced to resign as Deputy Chief Justice after a confrontation with a female guard at a high-end shopping mall in Nairobi on New Year’s Eve of 2012.

Baraza, now a law lecturer at the University of Nairobi, was accused of pinching the nose of Rebecca Kerubo after a brief confrontation that earned the then deputy CJ the title of the ‘nose-pincher’.

Last month, Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri was involved in a confrontation with a female police officer. He is accused of assaulting the female officer when she sought to inspect the vehicle he was travelling in, in Nakuru. The matter is before court.