Kenya's ruling party to finally control Nairobi county

Saturday August 12 2017

Nairobi governor-elect Mike Mbuvi Sonko (left) and deputy governor-elect Polycarp Igathe during the launch of their manifesto at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) on July 23, 2017. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Nairobi governor-elect Mike Mbuvi Sonko (left) and deputy governor-elect Polycarp Igathe during the launch of their manifesto at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) on July 23, 2017. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG 

By ALLAN OLINGO
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Kenya's ruling party Jubilee now has full control of the capital Nairobi after its candidate Mike Mbuvi Sonko won the race for governor.

Mr Sonko, who was the Nairobi senator, beat incumbent Evans Kidero in the elections. The win for the ruling party means it will now fully control the seat of central government, and the industrial and commercial capital city.

The Jubilee administration had established the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, whose mandate will be to ease traffic jams in Nairobi and the satellite towns. The authority, which will be under the central government, seeks to perform some of the core functions of the Nairobi County.

“The authority will be tasked with establishing a mass transport system, commuter services and the public transport within Nairobi metropolis,” former Transport Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera said.

In February, President Uhuru Kenyatta accused Nairobi governor Evans Kidero of failing to work for the city residents and frustrating his government’s efforts to improve the city’s infrastructure.

“Kidero has failed Nairobi residents. Jubilee has many qualified leaders to replace him. Governors control enormous resources but Nairobi has little to show for it. You know the Nairobi government you elected. What has it done? Tell me,” Mr Kenyatta posed.

Polycarp Igathe

Mr Sonko’s deputy governor-elect, Polycarp Igathe, a former chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, will be keenly watched as he was touted to be the ultimate chief executive of the city, as the governor plays a political role.

The private sector players, who had complained during Dr Kidero’s term of inefficiencies in doing business within Nairobi, will now hope that they have a man who intimately understands their concerns and will address them.

The proposed Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill authored by outgoing deputy Senate Speaker Kembi Gitura vouched for the creation of a national capital city known as Nairobi, to be the seat of the national government.

“The president will be empowered by law to nominate a Cabinet Secretary, with the approval of the National Assembly, to head the city. The CS will be in charge of the affairs of the city and report to the president.”

Amend Constitution

In December last year, the Jubilee administration proposed amending the Constitution to have the capital city run like Kampala, which was taken over by the central government six years ago.

The proposed law would have effectively knocked out the current devolved system, which has a Country Assembly. Instead, the city’s residents will be represented in the National Assembly through their constituencies.

While defending the bill, Mr Gitura told The EastAfrican that the proposal was alive to the power of the people and their right to representation.

Outside of the city, the Jubilee administration will also boast control of the Council of Governors after its party won 25 seats in the county leadership table out of the 47 seats.

The Opposition will take 18 counties, while two are in independent candidates’ hands.

It is also interesting that out of the 47 governors during the first term, only 22 are set to retain their seats after this year’s elections.