Moses Onyango, Kenya

Deputy Chief Editor at The PALM

airobi City County Governance has undergone a series of restructures in the recent days. The County Government, which is one of the 47 Devolved units established under the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and the County Government Act, 2012 is structurally divided into the County Executive led by the Governor and Deputy Governor, and the County Assembly led by the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.

Former Chief Officer, Anne Kananu took oath as Deputy Governor this morning. The event, attended by the Acting Governor, the Director of the Nairobi Metropolitan Services amongst other leaders, is one that is set to change the face of the governance of the Country’s Capital city.

On 8th August 2017, the youthful duo of Hon Mbuvi Sonko and Polycarp Igathe were elected as Governor and Deputy Governor respectively. The elections were then challenged in court through a Petition filed by Japheth Muroko and Zacheus Oliech, voters in the County. The case was however withdrawn and declared as dismissed on 9th January 2018ushering a peaceful tenure. However, the suit- less tenure was short- lived as 3 days later; on 12 January 2018, Polycarp Igathe resigned from the position citing inability to earn the Governor’s trust.

At the time, the County Government Act, 2012 did not provide for the aftermath of the resignation of a Deputy Governor. On 9th March 2018, the Supreme Court in In re Speaker, County Assembly of Embu [2018] eKLR issued an Advisory opinion allowing the Governor to nominate a Deputy Governor within 14 days of the resignation of a Deputy Governor, and subject the nominee to County Assembly Approval.

On 16 May 2018, Governor Sonko nominated controversial lawyer Miguna Miguna to the position of Deputy Governor. Miguna Miguna, who had been deported to Canada over allegations of lack of a valid citizenship, was however rejected by the County Assembly on the basis that he was a dual citizen.

The City faced yet another legal hiccup when the Governor was arrested and charged with the misappropriation of KES 357 Million. On 11th December 2019, the court released the embattled Governor on Cash bail of KES 30 Million. However, The High Court had previously directed that Governors who are accused of corruption would be barred from accessing office during the pendency of their cases. Governor Sonko was therefore barred from accessing office.

The Governor nonetheless single- headedly steered the Capital City’s governance from a Private office in the absence of a Deputy Governor until 9th January 2020 when henominated Anne Kananu to the position of Deputy Governor. This move was however challenged by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission on the basis that the move violated the Bail terms. Meantime, the County Assembly Speaker rejected the appointment on the basis that the Governor did not comply with the Elections body’s guidelines requiring the Governor to first seek clearance of the nominee.  On 7thFebruary 2020, the court issued an order stopping the County Assembly from vetting the nominee. In another twist, on 10thFebruary 2020, the Election’s body cleared the nominee.  The vetting of the nominee did not proceed due to the Court injunction.

Another twist was then faced in the City when on 25thFebruary 2020, the Governor signed a Deed transferring some key functions to the National Government. The functions were thereby taken over by the Office of the President through the Nairobi Metropolitan Service led by Major General Badi, the Director General. The Governor’s efforts to rescind the contents of the deed were never successful.

Both Major General Badi and Governor Sonko run the affairs of the City County, with a series of complaints from both fronts. However, on 18 December 2020, the Senate of Kenya approved the impeachment of the Governor. Shortly thereafter, the Speaker took oath as Acting Governor and the Elections’ body on 21st December 2020 designated 18thFebruary 2021 as the date for a by- election. However, the High Court on 4th January 2021, suspended the by election.

The City County has no doubt been rocked with a series of unending legal and political twists, the latest being the Court’s ‘okaying’ of Madam Anne Kananu’s vetting, which was successful, leading her to take oath of office as Deputy Governor on 15th January 2021. As to what happens to the Acting Governor/ County Assembly Speaker is yet another twist we would be glad to highlight.

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