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City Hall wrangles messier as Elachi roped into Sonko and Badi turf wars

By Josphat Thiong'o | July 29th 2020
Mlango Kubwa MCA Patricia Mutheu protests outside city hall on July 28, 2020. [Collins Kweyu,Standard]

The war of words between Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) Director General Mohamed Badi and Governor Mike Sonko is exposing a power struggle for the control of the capital that threatens to render the county’s leadership dysfunctional and risks paralysing service delivery.

Things have been become murkier as the Nairobi County Assembly has been into the feud. Pro-Sonko MCAs have mooted a plot to impeach Speaker Beatrice Elachi, accusing her of abuse of office, while another group want to revive the impeachment motion against the governor for his continued onslaught on the NMS and Elachi.

Trouble began after Sonko registered his intention to pull out from the deed of transfer agreement entered between the two levels of government.

In a letter to the Attorney General, Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa and Badi, Sonko declared a dispute between the county and the national government.

Bad faith

Sonko said the Deed of Transfer of Functions was grounded in sheer bad faith and monumental breaches of the Intergovernmental Relations Act.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was General Badi’s announcement that he was out to reclaim grabbed public land and particularly that he had repossessed the mayor’s residence in Lavington just days after it was surrendered back to Sonko by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

Badi thus thwarted Sonko’s plans to occupy the residence and also set the stage for the political showdown that is now playing out.

And while Badi maintained that he does not wish to be drawn into the theatrics of the governor, he accused Sonko of politicising the issue yet land and urban housing and planning were transferred to the NMS.

“I am not fighting the governor, remember the house has been vacant for the past two years. So what is this hullabaloo that he suddenly wants to enter that house?” posed Badi. He added that if Sonko wants to occupy the house, he would have to wait until the renovations are complete.

“There are several other houses that we are repairing but why Sonko picked (to feud over) that one, I do not know why and I cannot answer on his behalf.

Yesterday, Sonko said he was waiting for a response from the Attorney General’s office.

“The governor has a problem with people overstepping their mandate. If the NMS boss would bother to read the deed of transfer and implement what is written there, then we would not be getting any problems,” Sonko’s spokesperson, Ben Mulwa said.

There were running battles at the county assembly yesterday as the police used teargas to disperse pro-Sonko MCAs who, accompanied by embattled clerk Jacob Ngwele, stormed the assembly precincts to serve Elachi with her notice of impeachment motion and a court order revoking the recent appointment of a new clerk, Edward Gichana.

A standoff ensued as a group allied to the speaker allegedly locked themselves in the chambers despite Elachi last week announcing that assembly’s operations had gone virtual.

MCAs claim they have collected 59 signatures to oust Elachi. They are  required by law to collect 42 signatures. 

Impeachment bid

Elachi maintains that Sonko has a hand in the renewed bid by MCAs to impeach her. “Sonko has been targeting me because of my support for the NMS,” Elachi said.

Badi distanced himself from the chaos, saying he did not sponsor any select group of MCAs to launch an onslaught on the governor.

“As regards the matter of Sonko pulling out of the deed of transfer I will not comment on that because it is currently before the courts. I will focus on my duties,” he said.

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