Speaker declines Sh35m house ‘gift’ from MCAs

Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Benson Mutura at a City Hall, January 06, 2020. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Benson Mutura has declined a Sh35 million house ‘gift’ by MCAs.

The MCAs had allocated funds for the construction of the Speaker's residence in the 2021/2022 financial year budget estimates approved by the House.

The Speaker's about-turn comes a day before CEC Finance Allan Igambi tabled the budget in the assembly for approval.

The decision to acquire an official residence for the Speaker was arrived at following a directive by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) that county governments either buy or build houses for their leaders.

The assembly had a deadline of June 30, 2019, when the SRC was to scrap payment of Sh150,000 house allowance to Speakers.

But Mutura dismissed the SRC directive saying the plan to build an official residence was not tenable.

“The maintenance cost of that house will be higher than what SRC is trying to scrap as house allowance. We are in the process of writing to them to tell them that their decision is not tenable. For other counties, it might be but in Nairobi, it’s not. The capital has its unique challenges,” he said.

Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Benson Mutura. [Samson Wire, Standard]

The Speaker said the house could be a source of conflict in the near future and lead to the proliferation of public funds through the hidden costs associated with maintenance.

“The office of the Speaker is a political position and the house may be a source of controversy. At times there are stalemates that might lead to the impeachment of the Speaker which necessitates him to vacate the house. But what happens if he/she chooses not to move out prompting others to bring in goons to evict him?” he posed.

The property was to be located in the designated United Nations blue zones, which is synonymous with diplomats and expatriates as well as people working for international agencies.

They include Karen, Kileleshwa, High Ridge, Kitisuru, Lang'ata, Muthangari, Spring Valley, Muthaiga, Loresho, Lower Kabete, Windsor, and Balozi.

The Speaker also expressed concern that the acquisition of the house could come with disruptions to the family unit that will be forced to relocate.

“I believe if one is vying for the governor or speaker’s seat then you already have a residence and you should not be tasking your employer with finding you a place to stay. For someone like me, I live in Eastlands and having to move to a place like Runda means it will disrupt even my kids learning,” he said.