Tim Wanyonyi

Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi addressing his supporters at Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Nairobi where he launched his bid for Nairobi Gubernatorial seat on November 14, 2021.

| Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Tim Wanyonyi: My plan for Nairobi City County

What you need to know:

  • Wanonyi says, if elected, he will integrate ICT as a core enabler of functions and services by the Nairobi City County Government.
  • Westlands MP also says he intends to transform the City into a business friendly and thriving hub for all.

Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi has set his sights on the coveted Nairobi gubernatorial seat in next year’s polls.
He told the Nation on Sunday that he was proud of his achievements in the expansive cosmopolitan constituency despite his condition. His physical challenges, he said, do not stop him from serving his people. 

“That is a question I was asked when I went to Westlands. I told them my job is not physical. If it means moving around, I have no problem with that. I can move around Nairobi as many times as I can. I have a car, whenever I need to get out I get on my wheelchair and speak to the people. What matters is your intellect; and my intellect is intact,” he said.

“Nobody has any doubt that I have performed very well in Westlands. Westlands has got slum areas but I don’t work like that. Sometimes you work with your pen and mind. Sometimes you use your officers to do the work but where it needs me, I’ll get there. So that’s not even a question that can dissuade me,” he added.

He said many able politicians cannot match the work he has done.

“I’m capable of doing anything that anybody can do. Managing Nairobi is not a big deal. I can manage Kenya because when I get in State House, I’ll have a Cabinet and a team across the country. At City Hall, I’ll have officers across the capital,” Mr Wanyonyi said.

The legislator is a brother of Ford-Kenya Party leader Moses Wetang’ula, but will be running on an ODM ticket, where he belongs. He said his brother’s brand of politics and choice of coalition won’t affect his ambitions.

The second-term legislator started out as a nominated councillor at City Hall between 2007 and 2013. 

“Nairobi is dominated by ODM and Jubilee parties and now that they plan to work together, we are confident we shall bag this seat. So whichever direction my brother goes, I don’t think it will affect my position,” he said.

“There are some mischievous people who just want to associate me with my brother to distract me politically over his moves. He’s a hard tackler, I play smart. My vision is to make sure Nairobi one of the best places on earth that anybody who comes here can invest safely. 

“A place they will enjoy staying. We want to make Nairobi an entertainment hub like Los Angeles, Lagos and Johannesburg.” 

Aware of the existence of ‘cartels’ at City Hall, he promised to restructure the procurement sector. 

“Sometimes they call them deep state. If you look at it critically, these are the traps that the people walk into in City Hall. Some of them are suppliers who have become part of the system while some are contractors and know everybody there,” he said.

“They can introduce you to some things that look very attractive and if you fall to them, you are done. I have what it takes to restructure City Hall.”

Here are the excerpts of the interview:

Your brother is in Ford-Kenya, yet you are in ODM. How? 

I don’t talk politics with my brother. I have never influenced him to get favours from the party other than trying to make them work in a coalition. In 2013, I suggested to him to join hands with Raila Odinga because I knew he would be better off since the other side was becoming hostile to him.

He saw sense and teamed up with Raila in 2013 and formed Cord, together with Kalonzo Musyoka, and other parties. They remained together in 2017 in Nasa. At a family level though we don’t discuss politics. When we meet I never mention ODM and he never mentions his party. It can be very dangerous to start arguing at home about your parties.

There has been talk that you may consider going to your home county of Bungoma, how true is this?

I can’t go to Bungoma. I am a Nairobi politician. If I go to Bungoma, there will be a supremacy war between me and my brother, which I don’t want. That will create another situation where you can both end up being sacrificed. That’s a gamble I do not want to take. I’m at home in Nairobi. Apart from it being my birth place, I’ve never worked in Bungoma. I have a home there but the longest I stay is a month. So people may know my name but they don’t know me. I want to make a difference as the governor of this city.

So what is your plan for the city county?

Having served in Nairobi County for a total of 15 years, I am well aware of what residents of Nairobi require and I will fix it. I will integrate ICT as a core enabler of functions and services by the Nairobi City County Government; fight corruption to enhance service delivery; ensure a clean environment; and create a conducive legal and infrastructural regime that will enable talent search and incubation for Nairobi youth.

I will endeavor to transform the City into a business friendly and thriving hub for all; make it a healthy, safe, dignified home for all including Children and PWD and streamline the transport sector in the City to accommodate all— including boda-boda riders, bikers, cyclists, PWDs and pedestrians.

Lastly, I will reposition Nairobi as a premier tourist destination and optimally utilise the existing developed and undeveloped county land to address the housing needs of Nairobi residents

I will transform the dream of owning a house by ordinary Nairobi residents and families into a reality during their lifetime!

Have you had any role in plans by ODM to enter into a coalition with other parties, including Ford-Kenya?

I think President Kenyatta has done it well. He has been trying to persuade One Kenya Alliance (consists of Ford Kenya, ANC, Wiper party and Kanu) to join with ODM. That has not been ruled out yet. Sometimes people in politics may say no but then end up together. In OKA, there are those who are already moving closer to ODM like Kanu and Wiper and I’m sure Ford-Kenya and ANC will follow suit. Politics is about interest and currently, there are only two major formations; that of Mr Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto. These are the two groups that look likely to ascend to power in the next election.

Tim Wanyonyi

Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi addressing his supporters at Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Nairobi where he launched his bid for Nairobi Gubernatorial seat on November 14, 2021.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Do you have fears that if your brother enters a different coalition, it may jeopardise your chances of becoming the governor?

No. UDA has no presence in Nairobi. ODM is the biggest party here. So whichever direction he goes, even if he joins ODM, I don’t think he will influence my politics. Even when he was in Nasa, there was nothing he did for my re-election. I did it within ODM. Ford-Kenya and ANC have very little ground in Nairobi. ODM and Jubilee are the dominant parties. Ford-Kenya could give a persuasive influence but I don’t think there is much they can do. 

How will you balance between the party and the ethnic card?

Nairobi is a cosmopolitan city and has got all interests. You cannot talk about dominance of a particular community. It has almost every tribe. So I have deliberately avoided to play the ethnic card and try to play a Kenya card by bringing these people together. When you invite all these communities, they’ll all identify with you and vote for you regardless of ethnic persuasion. My party is ODM and I subscribe to what it propagates – social justice and devolution.

Nairobi is regarded as the hotbed of politics, how prepared are you to handle the high political temperatures in the county?

Having served as an MP, the dynamics of managing a constituency and those of a county are not so different. They are all structures that are government-related. I’ll go there with the same capacity and intention. The pioneer governors were entering into an office without anything; no structures, no set-up at all but today, the structures are there. This will ease my work.

What lessons have you learnt from former Nairobi governors Evans Kidero and Mike Sonko?

Dr Kidero came in with no idea what it was about as the pioneer governor. I think it threw him off balance and by the time he was picking up to settle down, time was off and people were disappointed. For Sonko, I’m not sure if he knew anything about what he was going to do in Nairobi. It was a circus. He was playing around and enjoying himself. From all looks, he was not serious. He was a better senator than a governor.

How do you plan to foster a cordial relationship between the executive and the county assembly?

In most counties where there is disharmony between the executive and the county assembly, it’s because of a petty gap. Most governors look down upon MCAs. They think civic leaders are illiterate people who don’t know anything. So they end up lecturing them instead of working with them. When you take that attitude, they will refuse to pass the bills you want because they have the mandate and can refuse to pass your budget. If you take time and understand their leadership within the county assembly and bring them on board, they will listen to you because they also want peace.

The country has witnessed disharmony between the governors and their deputies. How do you plan to foster a cordial relationship with your deputy, if elected?

It’s wrong to let anybody pick a deputy for you. Pick your deputy, a person you understand. When you allow your party or someone else to appoint a deputy for you, you will be in trouble. He won’t be loyal to you. He should work under your supervision and only receive instructions from you.
I cannot have a disruptive or a restless person behind me.

With the planned ODM-Jubilee coalition, there is a likelihood of consensus between the two parties and this may lead to you being given a running mate. How will you handle this situation?

I believe we will have room to negotiate. Of course we know people on the other side also. We can ask to be allowed to choose whom to work with. But if they insist, then I’ll work with anyone. I’ll be the boss and he’ll only receive instructions from me. If he agrees then we can work together. I have seen deputies who want to fix their bosses so they can take over.

Do you have anybody in mind?

Not yet. I’ll consider that towards nominations. I’ll do that once the coalition between our party, Jubilee and others is finalised; when we have a clear understanding that these positions have to be vied for. From there, I’ll be able to work out who will be my deputy.

Under what circumstances would you abandon the race and remain as an MP?

I don’t want to speculate but in politics you don’t rule out anything. Anything is possible and if I’m persuaded and there is very good reason for me not to go for gubernatorial seat, I’ll listen. I can reconsider because Westlands is my turf. Nobody has chased me away. In fact, the people of Wetlands want me to stay. My ground is intact, I can go back to Westlands anytime. My focus right now is just on the gubernatorial race.

Are there circumstances that may force you to become a running mate?

If it comes to be running mate, I better remain in Westlands because the position of deputy governor is not even defined anywhere. I don’t think it has got any mandate for anything. As you deputise somebody, a good governor will ignore you; you will just sit there doing nothing.

What kind of a person would you wish to take over from you in Westlands?

I don’t think the people of Westlands would want somebody who will come and play disruptive politics. They want somebody who will come and fit in the structure that I’ll leave; who can carry on with the kind of relationship I have created between the people and myself and the leadership I have set up.

Again, I have not played a tribal card. Even those who were uncomfortable with me in the beginning are now Ok with me. If you ask them they will say we feel at home with Wanyonyi, because I never discriminate. I sit with them and we do things in an open way.