Keep off Uhuru Park affairs, Sakaja clashes with Duale over directive on political rallies

Uhuru Park

Members of the public make their way to Uhuru Park in Nairobi. Inset:  Cabinet Secretary for Defence Aden Duale and Nairobi County Governor Johnson Sakaja.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Mr Duale maintains his position and asks Governor Sakaja to rethink his decision.
  • Cabinet Secretary asks county government to consider other venues for political rallies.

Nairobi County Governor Johnson Sakaja has contradicted the Cabinet Secretary for Defence Aden Duale over a directive banning political rallies at Uhuru Park and Central Park in Nairobi.

Speaking on Thursday during the official handover of the renovated parks at Uhuru Park, Mr Sakaja said it is the devolved unit’s mandate to decide on the events that can take place at the parks and not Mr Duale or the Ministry he heads.

"It is us who will decide what (it) will be used for. If we decide to do a crusade, we'll do it. If we decide to hold prayers, we'll do it here," said Sakaja.

Mr Sakaja said the county will instead come up with guidelines that will see the parks open for rallies.

However, speaking at the same function, Mr Duale stuck to his guns saying the park should not be used for political rallies since billions of shillings have been pumped into revamping the facility. 

He asked the governor to rethink his decision, adding that it would be meaningless to spend huge sums of money for the park to be destroyed by political rallies. 

"We have done many rallies here. I just want to give the governor a hint. If we have to maintain the global park standards, we have to give an alternative. We can't have our cake and eat it. We can have a good park, and people destroy the park in six hours," Mr Duale said.

The Cabinet Secretary asked the county government to consider other venues, such as Kamukunji grounds, for political rallies.

On Wednesday, Mr Duale said that no political rallies or meetings will be allowed in the revamped parks.

The CS said the two parks, which have been upgraded for Sh1.18 billion, will never again host such events.

Appearing before the Senate, Mr Duale said they would not allow the two parks to return to their old dilapidated states and urged the political class to find other venues for their rallies.

"This park will never again be used by politicians for rallies. It is out of bounds. Let us keep politics and our supporters out of the park. Those in the political class will have to find another venue," Duale said.

The CS was responding to a question from Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna on the rationale behind the demolition of the popular Uhuru Park Pavilion.

Uhuru Park is synonymous with Kenya’s quest for multiparty democracy in the 1990s and has been a popular venue for political rallies during campaigns.

Meanwhile, Governor Sakaja has also said plans are underway to have Uhuru Park host restaurants and nightclubs.

"Whoever wants to party in the park can bring it because we want to bring back life into the CBD," Mr Sakaja said, adding that the tendering process would be transparent.