Beatrice Elachi

Former Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi.

| File | Nation Media Group

Winners and losers in Nairobi County Assembly turf wars

The never-ending supremacy battles at the Nairobi County Assembly have become the stuff of legend, and have claimed more casualties in 2020, with the biggest ones being Beatrice Elachi and Jacob Ngwele.

The duo, who have been embroiled in a bitter power tussle since 2018, began the year holding key positions in the county government, only to end 2020 jobless.

Jacob Ngwele speaking outside Milimani Law Court Nairobi on July 24, 2020.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

The battle between the two would later rope in the entire Assembly, leading to the formation of two factions — one led by former Speaker and Minority Whip Peter Imwatok and the other by Majority Leader Abdi Guyo.

Beatrice Elachi

Ms Elachi (seated) speaking to the press surrounded by her supporters on October 10, 2019 amid chaos at the Nairobi County Assembly.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

How it started

But, in order to understand this vicious feud, one must go back to the beginning.

The two had a falling-out in early 2018, said to be over a tender for the refurbishment of the Speaker’s house. However, they each deny that this is the genesis of their falling-out.

Later that year, Ms Elachi was impeached on grounds of abuse of office, misuse of public funds and other charges.

Following her return to the Assembly in October 2019 after more than a year out in the cold, she waged an open war with Mr Ngwele as each flexed their muscles over who was the de facto leader.

Court battles ensued between the two. Later, under her watch, Mr Ngwele would be suspended as Assembly clerk. He was also blocked from gaining access to his office and Ms Monicah Muthami was appointed to act in the position.

Jacob Ngwele

The office of Nairobi County ex-Assembly Clerk Jacob Ngwele on November 6, 2019 after it was blocked by MCAs who kicked him out saying his appointment was illegal.

Photo credit: File | Collins Omulo | Nation Media Group

First to benefit

Former head of Assembly communication Pauline Akuku, an ardent supporter of Ms Elachi, was the first person to benefit from the wrangles.

She was elevated to Acting Nairobi Assembly Clerk and, afterwards, appointed Deputy Clerk in charge of administration.

In June, Ms Elachi advertised the position of Assembly Clerk with former Nairobi County head of internal audit Edward Gichana getting appointed to the position to replace Mr Ngwele.

Subsequent court battles would end in a loss for Mr Ngwele. Lady Justice Maurine Onyango on October 16 declared his appointment as Assembly Clerk in 2014 as irregular and unlawful, paving the way for Mr Gichana to take the key job.

Mr Gichana would assume office in November, killing any hopes Mr Ngwele had of returning to his job.

Nairobi County Assembly

Police officers keep vigil outside City hall on August 14, 2020 during voting for Nairobi County Assembly Speaker following the resignation of Beatrice Elachi.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Next: Guyo

In the meantime, Mr Guyo and Ms Elachi were also battling each other after the latter orchestrated his removal from office as Leader of Majority as well as vice-chair of the County Assembly Service Board.

In his place, Dandora Area 3 MCA Charles Thuo would take over as Leader of Majority while Hamza Maringo MCA Mark Ndung’u would replace Mr Guyo at the Assembly’s board.

Mr Guyo, however, turned the tables on his political nemesis in April by making a comeback into office, reclaiming his Majority Leader's position with Mihang’o MCA Paul Kados as the Majority Whip.

Nairobi County Majority Leader Abdi Guyo

Nairobi County Majority Leader Abdi Guyo. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

In the process, Ms Elachi’s friends — nominated MCA June Ndegwa, Mr Thuo and Kariokor MCA Millicent Mugadi — would lose their seats as Majority Whip, Majority Leader and Deputy Majority Leader respectively.

Mr Guyo joined forces with former City Hall boss Mike Sonko to take on the former nominated senator.

Beatrice Elachi

Ms Beatrice Elachi leaves City Hall buildings on August 11, 2020 after resigning as Speaker.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Threats to life

Sensing defeat, the heat proved too much for her to handle, and Ms Elachi tendered her resignation as County Assembly Speaker in August.

She cited threats to her life and family, as well as power tussles, frustrations and interference from Sonko, as the reasons for her resignation.

My life was threatened, Speaker Beatrice Elachi says as she resigns

“Governor Sonko, you cannot go on threatening people’s lives. You also have a family. You cannot have everything, just nurture what God has given you,” she said in a statement at the time.

Benson Mutura's supporters

Supporters of Mr Benson Mutura celebrate outside City hall on August 14, 2020 after he was elected Nairobi County Speaker.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A new Speaker becomes the boss

The next beneficiary of this stage of Assembly wars would be former Makadara MP Benson Mutura, who came in as the new Speaker in August 2020. By December, he was being sworn in as acting Nairobi governor after the impeachment of Sonko.

Acting Nairobi Governor Benson Mutura is congratulated by NMS Director Mohamed Badi

Acting Nairobi Governor Benson Mutura is congratulated by NMS Director Mohamed Badi (left) after he was sworn in on December 21, 2020.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

In the emerging power matrix, Baba Dogo MCA and former Mayor Geoffrey Majiwa would be elevated to the Deputy Speaker's position.

The power struggles would also see Karen MCA David Mberia lose his Minority Leader’s seat to Embakasi MCA Michael Ogada, the slayer of Sonko.

Mr Mberia’s deputy Patrick Musili would also be stripped of his position which was given to nominated MCA Mellab Atema.

ODM’s representative to the Assembly’s board, Nairobi West MCA Maurice Gari, would also be shown the door with nominated MCA Catherine Okoth being his replacement.

Nairobi County MCAs

Nairobi County MCAs who were barred from accessing the County Hall during budget reading on June 25, 2020.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

But just as there are many winners in this political game, there are more losers that have found themselves felled by the wrangles at the Assembly. For instance, Jubilee in November suspended Ann Thumbi, Silvia Museiya and Millicent Jagero from the party for three months for undermining the party.

The nominated ward representatives would also be de-whipped for six months from all the committees they were serving in.

“The charged members are suspended from Jubilee Party for a period of three months as well as de-whipped from all the committees of Nairobi County Assembly in which they serve, for a period of six months in accordance with article 13.4.1(a) as read together with regulations 54.1(b) of Jubilee Party National Disciplinary Committee regulations of 2017,” said Jubilee Party National Disciplinary Committee chairperson Lumatete Muchai.

ODM would follow suit in December by fining 12 of its MCAs a total sum of Sh9.25 million over misconduct after disciplinary hearings with eight of the 12 suspended for a period of between three and six months and de-whipped from all committees at the assembly.

The MCAs included Laini Saba Ward rep Cecili Ayot, Lower Savannah MCA Nicholas Okumu, Utalii MCA Wilson Ocholla, Maurice Gari (Nairobi West) and David Okello (Huruma), Redson Otieno (Ngei), Jared Okode (Mathare North) and David Mbithi (Viwandani).

Others were nominated MCAs Hafsa Khalif, Nimo Haji, Caroline Mayunzu and Millicent Akinyi.