24 February 2008

Kenya: Hoteliers' Anger At ODM Over Civic Seat

Nairobi — The Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (Kahc) has threatened to stop paying bed levy to the Mombasa Municipal Council after missing a civic nomination slot.

Traditionally, a member of the association gets nominated to the council to represent the interests of the hotel sector.

Mombasa has 32 elected councillors, 30 of whom are in ODM and the rest Kaddu and Kadu Asili. This means that all the nomination slots went to ODM.

An angry KAHC Coast branch chairman, Mr Mohamed Hersi, on Saturday said the association would reconsider its stand on the monthly bed levy paid the council.

"We signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the council last year and agreed to pay bed levy. But since they have kicked us out, they can as well kiss the levy goodbye," Hersi said.

The council elects a new mayor on Monday.

"It is an open fact that nomination slots are for special interest groups. Tourism forms one of these groups and we are always represented at the council," Hersi said.

In 2002, Narc nominated Mr Kuldip Sondhi, a hotelier and chairman of Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association, a councillor.

"Sondhi served in the council very well since he was a committed and steadfast leader," Hersi said.

He accused ODM of rewarding its cronies despite claiming to represent change.

"Where is this change if councillors can be taken into hiding before the mayoral elections?" he posed.

The hotelier said it was wrong for civic leaders to go into hiding yet they were from the same party.

"Let them know that whoever furnished their lavish lifestyles in big hotels will want their money back. This will be when the councils are constituted and the 'sponsors' demand contracts to recoup what they spent," he said.

Hersi advised the new Mombasa municipality kingpins to rescind their decision if they expected co-operation from the hotel industry.

Speaking separately, a Muslim scholar, Sheikh Mohamed Sheikh, urged the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission to launch investigations into bribery allegations against elected councillors.

"It is a shame to condone such acts. Those implicated should be investigated and prosecuted," he said.

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