Kananu swearing in: Climax of intrigues-in Sonko ouster

Monday, January 18th, 2021 00:00 |
Nairobi Deputy Governor Anne Kananu Mwenda.

Alvin Mwangi and George Kebaso

The swearing in of Ann Kananu Mwenda as Nairobi Deputy Governor was the culmination of tense, behind the scenes intrigues that kicked off with impeachment of Mike Sonko last year.

Though the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), had indicated that it will conduct a by-election in Nairobi next month, powerful forces within the  Handshake wing of the Jubilee administration, are said to have laid an elaborate plan to scuttle any contest at the ballot, with Deputy President William Ruto and his hustler nation brigade.

Despite critics raising numerous legal questions on the procedure leading to Kananu’s entry to City Hall, even the Ward Reps who backed Sonko’s stay, have moved on and are swimming with the new tide.

 They say things happened so fast they could not stop them.  Not even the numerous applications in the High Court by the indefatigable Okiya Omtatah could help.

Political heat

“It is not what we expected to happen but we have no choice, the government appears to have taken full control of Nairobi and the best thing for us is to support  the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS),” said nominated MCA Mary Njambi.

 The scheme, insiders said,  is to have her eventually sworn in as  a governor who will later be deputised  by a politician from Raila Odinga’s  Orange party.

 On his part, Majority Leader Abdi Guyo said most  Nairobi residents   were not ready for a by-election.

“ There is no way, Nairobi could have gone for a by-election. Residents were tired of the ongoing political heat and at the same time our country is broke. I don’t think they have close to Sh2 billion for the exercise,” said Guyo.

A seemingly angry President Kenyatta last year warned Mike Sonko to focus on service delivery and avoid unnecessary conflicts with NMS boss Major Mohammed Badi.

Wewe Sonko wacha siasa, Jemedari hana haja na kiti ya governor. We are here to deliver services to our people. Na Yule ambaye hataki hiyo akae kando  kwa sababu sisi tutapita juu yake,” said Uhuru.

Sonko had been without a deputy governor, following Polycarp Igathe’s resignation.

In January, 2020, Sonko nominated her to deputise him in a letter addressed to former assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi, saying the decision was in line with article 180(5) of the Constitution and the Supreme Court Advisory of March 9, 2018.

As a result, many questions had been asked as to what is the position of the law where a Deputy Governor resigns.

Previously, both the Constitution and the County Government Act, No. 17 of 2012, were silent on the effect of the resignation of a Deputy Governor. However, the lacuna in the law was filled by the Supreme Court’s advisory opinion.

Kananu was sworn into office as the Nairobi County deputy governor, on a day punctuated by many firsts.

In about six hours, Kananu was quickly elevated from position of chief officer in charge of Disaster Management and Compliance, to the city’s second in command by afternoon, perhaps making her among the first holders of the position to be vetted and sworn into office on the same day.

Having scored her first victory at about 8am when the High Court dismissed two petitions seeking to block her vetting, Kananu strode into the County Assembly plenary chambers at 9am, ready to face the panel that would set the process in motion about 10 minutes later. The process would last for about one hour until 10.10am.

At 11am, the county assembly convened a Special Sitting that saw the whole House adopt a report compiled in record time,by the Vetting and Appointments committee recommending for the approval of Kananu as the deputy governor.

And just nine minutes to 2pm, Justice John Mativo swore in Kananu as the second deputy governor of Nairobi County at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.

As she took her oath of office, Kananu was flanked by Mutura, County Assembly majority and minority parties’ leadership as well a multitude of MCAs.

 But a huge backlash has greeted  the swearing in.

“High Court of Kenya ruling by Justice Anthony Mrima allowing Anne Kananu to be vetted and sworn-in as Deputy Governor of Nairobi is judiciary’s horrible moment of decay,” Ndung’u Wainaina, Executive Director, International Center for Policy and Conflict told the  on Sunday.

“Justice John Mativo’s participation in swearing in, full of illegalities is atrocious judicial impunity,” added Wainaina.

 On their part, Kongamano La Mageuzi (KLM) and its constituent political parties United Green Movement, Ukweli Party and the communist Party of Kenya, condemned the installation of Kananu as deputy governor terming it a constitutional coup , that only serves to undermine the rule of law and the constitution.

 “This is a consciously, scripted and methodically executed strategy to undermine the people’s sovereignty and rule of law that started with the illegal installation of the NMS,” KLM, a conglomeration of nascent political parties said.

 Thirdway Alliance, which has already moved to court to contest Kananu’s oath of office termed the process as illegal and an affront to the rule of law.

 “They cannot use the Judiciary as a short cut to get us a governor in Nairobi. The courts are there to serve all of us; we want nothing but a by-election,” Fredrick Okang’o, the party’s spokesman said. 

Formally writes

 Garissa Township MP Aden Duale argues that the Judiciary erred in swearing Kananu, as the law requires that a governor should first sign her appointment as deputy governor before taking ought of office.

 “The law states the deputy governor is nominated by the governor, her name is taken to the county assembly for vetting by MCAs , if he or she successful, the governor formally writes a letter to appoint him or her to the position; after which an oath of office is taken,” said Duale.

 He said further; “Because Governor Mike Sonko was impeached, which means there is no substantive governor and the law provides that in the absence of the governor and his deputy, the county Speaker will act for only 60 days.

I want to challenge the Judiciary which is independent, someone must come out clearly either Acting Chief Justice- Philemona Mwilu or Justice John Mativo to tell us before Kananu was sworn-in who signed her appointment letter.” 

 Mombasa based lawyer Omwanza Ombati termed Justice Mrima’s decision that dismissed the petitions filed by Omtatah and Sonko’s lawyers to block the vetting of Kananu as a road that was cut and curved to the very end.

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