For Online E-newspaper
Nairobi News : December 11th 2013
Nairobi @50 I Wednesday, Dec 11 - Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 nairobinews.co.ke 5 COUNTY HALL JINX HAS HAUNTED FORMER MAYORS AND CLERKS s it a coincidence that very few Nairobi mayors ascend to parliamentary positions in the city? And that those who do, either fail to com- plete a term or just go for one if they are lucky. It seems serving at the apex of City Hall is a bad omen for anyone trying to get to Parliament. City Hall. This is where the matters of the city are determined. File, NairobiNews roads, of course, with the backing of the central government because the Government of Kenya was the one offering a guarantee. The only thing we got from Government was subvention on things like public health and later education. I say later because education came to Nairobi City Council in 1964 when I was mayor. Things changed when Independ- ence came. I was a very strict mayor. But I also recognised that things could not remain the same as far as Africans were concerned. For example, residentially, Nairobi was segregated racially which was unacceptable. That applied also to social services. I was really in the middle of the integration process since it was simply impossible to carry on with that arrangement if freedom had come. And there were by-laws to enforce that segregation. We had to change all that. Tide turns Come 1965, things started getting difficult. As mayor I got into trouble with a few ministers. One of them was Samuel Ayodo, the Minister for Local Government. He couldn’t understand why he couldn’t call me to his office for instructions. I knew him well and I used to tell him: ‘Samuel, you know how things work here. If you need anything in terms of the administration of the city, talk to the Town Clerk, not me. I am only the civic head.’ Ayodo just couldn’t understand this. And even Tom Mboya himself; he really came hard against me. But that was my stand. I had good friends in Kenyatta’s Cabinet. Joe Murumbi was one of them. Murumbi used to speak for me if there was any fitina in the Cabinet. Kenyatta was more civil; he was a lot more civilised than many of his ministers who became quite difficult to deal with. The ministers started dealing with city council officers directly. Mboya was especially notorious. I knew Mboya well because before he became a trade unionist, he was a city council employee. He was a health inspector. He used to inspect meat shops. But when he became a trade unionist and he ceased being an employee, he felt he needed to deal with the chief officers directly. We had a big protocol problem; who comes before whom. I was from the old school. Since leaving high school in 1940, I trained as a manager with the Post Office in the then Tanganyika for two years. But apart from that I did my own studies in the evenings. We had what we called Nairobi Evening Continuation Classes. I studied economics, book keep- ing and accountancy up to advanced level. In 1959, when I was a councillor, I got a study tour of Britain sponsored by the British Council to study local government and central government in Britain. So when I was mayor, I was very conscious of protocol but because these people were politicians, they thought they were gods on earth and had the right of way whenever and wherever they were. I got into a lot of trouble with many of them because of this. By 1965, they started watering down the strict structure of the council and interfering with how it was run. I got into a lot of trouble with them. That year in particular, I got into trouble with Ayodo. You see, for mayoral work then, there were no wages; we were all volunteers. There was no salary for the mayor or councillors. The only thing the The changes • The Constitution has changed the face of what used to be known as City Hall and its leadership structure. • Where we had the affairs of City Hall being managed by elected mayors and councillors, the Constitution has ushered in a new leadership structure comprising the Governor. The law making organ is the County Assembly of ward representatives. Decisions taken by the Governor and the county executive committee must be approved by the County Assembly. The ward representatives elect a Speaker, who presides over the County Assembly in much the same way as the Speakers of the National Assembly and the Senate. • It is also the County Assembly that vets and approves nominees to the county executive committee, after the names have been proposed by the Governor. councillors voted for was what they called mayoral allowances to cater for the numerous civic receptions we held for local and foreign dignitaries, especially diplomats. That vote was administered by my secretary because it was mainly for coffees. One day I said: ‘I am fed up with all this.’ I resigned. I called the press and told them: ‘I am not an employee, I am not paid, if I don’t get respect, what am I here for?’ So I quit. Mzee’s ire I lived in Kangemi then. When Kenyatta heard this, he said, ‘No, no.’ He sent Charles Njonjo and Njoroge Mungai. They came to my house. They said to me, ‘you know what, you have done a very bad thing. Mzee is very upset with you. Why did you resign without telling him?’ I explained to them but they re- mained adamant. They insisted I must go back. I told them, ‘I don’t want to annoy Mzee but when you resign, resignation takes effect immediately. The council can now not just reappoint me. They have to have a civic election to elect the mayor.’ So I explained that it couldn’t be done. They said, ‘you’d better go and explain that to him, yourself.’ I did exactly that. I went to State House but Kenyatta could hear none of it. He ordered: ‘kwenda fanya hii meeting yako, kesho rudi!’ (Do that meeting and tomorrow be back on your job!) So we called an urgent, extraordi- nary special general meeting of the city council where I was nominated as mayor, elected and installed. But by that time the whole thing had become very political and government interference was just too much. All these buildings you are seeing collapsing, that’s when it started. Professionalism ended then. The political class, some of them wanted to have their constituents employed in the City Council regardless of their ability for the job. At the end of every year you had to work out how many engineers, for example, you wanted. Politicians just wanted their people to be employed by the council. In 1967 I was on a tour of Germany when my five year term – that is, the one beginning 1962 – ended and I refused to return home until the mayoral elections were done with. When my deputy, Isaac Lugonzo, was elected, I returned home. • George Aladwa: He proved a hard nut to crack in Nairobi politics after he beat other candidates to become ODM chairman in the city. However when he tried to run in Makadara he flopped. • Phillip Kisia: Town clerks too seem to suffer similar fates. Kisia tried to battle it out with Governor Evans Kidero and he was trounced by Kidero, and beaten by Ferdinand Waititu and Jimnah Mbaru. • John Gakuo: He led a vicious fight against hawkers and was credited with cleaning up the city as Town Clerk. However, he said he would contest the gubernatorial seat but did not make it. • Joe Aketch: He is yet to vie for any seat since leaving County Hall. But has been an active politician having been a member of the disolved Party of National Unity. • Charles Rubia: Nairobi’s first African mayor (1963-1967) became Starehe MP in 1969 and by the time the 1974 elections were coming, he had lost his the seat. He never regained the seat and his last attempt was during the first multi-party elections in 1992. • Andrew Ngumba: mayor in the 1980s, only made it once as MP for Mathare in 1983 and that is the furthest he got. Then came Steve Mwangi (1993-94). He became Starehe MP in a 1994 by-election only to resign before the 1997 elections. • Dick Wathika : Two-term mayor Dickson Wathika made it as Makadara MP in 2007, but did not last a term. His election was nullified by a court. He lost in the 2010 by-election to the current Nairobi Senator Gidion Mbuvi. • Geophrey Majiwa: His first stab at being an MP was thwarted by Ruaraka residents who instead chose Tom Kajwang a younger brother of Senator Otieno Kajwang.
December 9th 2013
December 13th 2013