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Sonko sackings raising eyebrows

By Josphat Thiong’o | October 22nd 2019

Governor Mike Sonko at a past event in Nairobi. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

City MCAs have questioned Governor Mike Sonko's management style, and want him to explain the increased sackings, suspensions and demotions of county officials.

The MCAs argue that Mr Sonko's leadership style has hampered service delivery.

The ward representatives have also criticised the procedure used by the Governor to appoint acting officials once he has sacked or suspended those in office.

Since Sonko took over at City Hall, he has sacked and suspended more than 500 members of staff.

Earlier this month, Sonko suspended 16 county officials after a building collapsed at Precious Talent School in Dagoretti, Nairobi, killing eight pupils.

Irregular approval

Sonko claimed the 16 directly or indirectly had a hand in the irregular approval of the school building that collapsed.

In a statement tabled at the assembly, Mowlem Ward MCA Benson Mwangi said he was concerned that the suspensions and demotions had led to a shortage of staff and consequently caused delays in service delivery.

Mr Mwangi noted that the suspensions had led to the shutdown of critical services such as planning approvals, processing of permits, revenue collection, and health service delivery.

“This assembly can no longer watch as residents complain of poor service delivery,” said Mwangi.

Give a report

The ward rep now wants Sonko to give a report on staff that have been demoted, suspended or sacked since 2017, and whether the sackings and suspensions were legal.

“If the suspensions and sackings have not followed the due process, then they constitute an abuse of office under the Employment Act," Mwangi said.

"I know these demotions are usually based on mere allegations and are enforced without warnings."

Mwangi has also demanded to know whether the staff who have been suspended are in full or half pay.

“There are numerous positions also being held in an acting capacity, including that of the County Secretary. The Executive should inform us on the steps being taken to have officers holding such positions confirmed or let loose," Mwangi said.

In June, Sonko advertised 14 positions at City Hall to curb the staff shortage. Among the positions advertised was that of the County Secretary, with the successful applicant set to serve for four years.

The position is now held by Pauline Kahiga in an acting capacity.

Ten Chief Officer Positions were also advertised, with the successful applicants expected to serve on a contract basis.

But perhaps the most contentious position that has been advertised is that of the Director of Procurement.

The monthly salary scale for the successful applicant to this position will range between Sh118,290 to Sh157,160 with an additional Sh50,000 house allowance and Sh16,000 commuter allowance.

Applicants are required to have served for at least 10 years in supply chain management or in a comparable position in the public sector.

The position fell vacant after Sonko sent 30 procurement officers on forced leave, accusing them of issuing Local Purchase Orders without approval.

Two positions for the Deputy Director Procurement have also been advertised.

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