Hurdles ahead for governors without grip of county assembly

Nairobi City County Governor Johnson Sakaja delivers his speech at KICC Nairobi on Thursday, August 25, 2022. [Samson Wire, Standard]

After gruelling campaigns which climaxed with colourful swearing-in, the real task has started for 16 governors who will spend the next five years delicately negotiating with their ward representatives to implement every policy.

These governors won the crown but could be held hostage by Members of the Country Assembly (MCAs) in their counties because they lack the numbers in the assembly.

The most outstanding case is that of Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza and her Taita Taveta counterpart, Andrew Mwadime, who were both elected on an independent ticket to lead counties whose allegiance is split between Kenya Kwanza under President-elect William Ruto and Azimio la Umoja Kenya One coalition leader Raila Odinga.

Taita-Taveta County Governor Andrew Mwadime. [Renson Mnyamwezi, Standard]

In Isiolo, new Governor Abdi Guyo of Jubilee party faces a herculean task to push his agenda since Azimio coalition has only two MCAs. This after five MCAs affiliated to United Democratic Movement switched sides to Kenya Kwanza. Now Kenya Kwanza Alliance has eight MCAs of the total 10 MCAs.

In Nairobi, Governor Johnson Sakaja (UDA) will have to look for ways of working with the county assembly which has 83 elected MCAs out of which 44 owe their allegiance to Azimio while 37 MCAs have been elected under the Kenya Kwanza Alliance, which he belongs to.

Isiolo Governor Abdi Guyo. [Bruno Mutunga, Standard]

As a signal of what lies ahead for Sakaja, a section of MCAs allied to Azimio yesterday walked out of his swearing-in, claiming they had not been allocated seats.

Sailing in the same boat is Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomurukai (ODM) who will have to find a way of working with the 30 elected MCAs since 19 are affiliated to the rival Kenya Kwanza Alliance. His Azimio la Umoja coalition has only eight MCAs.

Former Nairobi Governor Ann Kananu hands over to the incoming Governor Johnson Sakaja County flag after taking over as the fourth Governor at KICC Nairobi on Thursday, August 25, 2022. [Samson Wire, Standard]

In Trans Nzoia, Governor George Natembeya (DAP-K) who is affiliated to Azimio Coalition has nine MCAs. Kajiado Governor Joseph Lenku (ODM), too, has some charming to do with Kenya Kwanza's 13 MCAs while his Azimio coalition has 12 MCAs in the assembly with a total of 25 elected MCAs. He must walk a tight rope and not antagonise his rival's base for tranquility in his government.

At the same time, Marsabit Governor Muhamud Ali (UDM) will also not have it easy since out of the 20 elected MCAs, 12 belong to Azimio while Kenya Kwanza Alliance where his party moved to has eight MCAs making him have a minority support in the assembly.

The king of comeback, West Pokot Governor Simon Kachapin (UDA) who returned after five years will have to look for ways of working with 20 elected MCAs. Here, Azimio has 10 MCAs while his Kenya Kwanza Alliance has nine.

Newly-elected Samburu Governor Jonathan Lelelit (UDA) will have much work to do with his Kenya Kwanza Alliance only having six MCAs while Azimio as nine out of the 15 elected MCAs.

It will also not be a walk in the park for Lamu Governor Issa Timamy (ANC) whose party has three affiliated to Kenya Kwanza Alliance while Azimio has five MCAs in the assembly. The county has 10 elected MCAs.

During the just concluded polls, 1,443 MCAs across the country out of 1,450 County Assembly seats were elected, as the exercise in seven county assembly seats was postponed by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to a later date.

In total UDA got 519 MCAs, ODM got 312 MCAs, Jubilee Party has 76 MCAs, Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM) got 69 while 112 MCAs were elected as independent candidates.

The other political parties got the remaining 75 County Assembly seats which now means that Kenya Kwanza has the highest number of 675 MCAs while Azimio has 581 MCAs across the country with focus now being in the control of County Assemblies.

Azimio had control of 24 County Assemblies with Kenya Kwanza controlling 21 County Assemblies before Mandera and Isiolo who had majority MCAs allied to United Democratic Movement (UDM) shifted their allegiance to Kenya Kwanza.

Political analyst Dismus Mokua said governors whose coalitions do not control their respective county assemblies may have challenges executing their agenda if they remain stuck to their coalition positions.

"A successful governor must therefore place a premium in the county development agenda and incorporate and capture Members of County Assembly thinking in their priorities since they are indispensable," said Mokua.

He said the governors must engage in deliberate consultations with MCAs on policy development and budget appropriations.

Elections for Kakamega and Mombasa governors are set to be held on Monday with both county assemblies already controlled by Azimio coalition and it would be interesting to see which coalition bags the two coveted seats.

The Standard
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