Kenya: Ward Reps, Leaders Train Guns on Joho

15 September 2020

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho is under fire from local leaders and ward reps over claims of interfering with the county assembly leadership and rendering the House a puppet of the Executive.

Disgruntled MCAs on Monday claimed that a majority of their colleagues have become rubber-stamps of the governor, fearing being de-whipped from their lofty perches in House committees.

This came as a section of local leaders led by Nyali MP Mohammed Ali and former Mombasa Senator Omar Hassan accused Mr Joho of high-handedness and taking residents for a ride.

The MCAs pleaded with residents "to forgive them for the bad leadership at the assembly, and for failing to hold the county leadership to account".

Led by Freretown MCA Charles Kitula, they rallied residents against paying taxes until Mr Joho explains how he has used Sh31.4 billion allocated to the county.

Mr Kitula, who was de-whipped from chief whip position, said he was targeted for holding the county to account and questioning the Executive on use of funds.

Development records

"I questioned the Executive after the Auditor-General's report came out. Our county should account for all the funds allocated since 2013. Mr Joho should show us all the development records and how he has used the funds," Mr Kitula said.

The MCA accused Mombasa leaders of turning a blind eye to corruption allegations in the county and failing in their oversight roles.

His Kipevu counterpart Faith Mwende claimed that the county assembly sings and dances to Mr Joho's tune.

She said residents have a right to know the ongoing ills at the assembly, adding that the House is controlled by tyranny of numbers. "The committees are selected according to those who can proclaim 'yes sir' all the time, and I am not a shamed to say so. Kongowea MCA Abrary Mohammed Omar was the Lands vice-chair but he was purged from the position. We want people to know what is happening at the assembly," she added.

Former Senator Omar urged the electorate to vote for good leadership at the grassroots level.

"Every other term, Mombasa County assembly has the most disappointing bunch of politicians in Kenya. But in future, please elect leaders who will hold the county accountable. In 2022, we will arrest all the corrupt leaders and charge them," he said.

Mr Omar and MP Ali urged residents to reject Mr Joho's "oppressive leadership".

"The ongoing ills in this county calls for a probe, but a day will come when these leaders will be answerable to the queries some of these members of the assembly are raising here. We will not tire, we will continue fighting for the resident's rights through the courts and on political platforms," said Mr Ali.

But in a rejoinder, county Speaker Aharub Khatri refuted the claims, saying he is not anyone's puppet. He added that he should not be blamed for whatever is happening at the assembly.

Defend the governor

"This is purely about tyranny of numbers. These are political party issues. How do I come in? I neither have votes nor sit in those committees. In a worst case scenario, I always call for a vote. I am an arbitrator. I never take sides," Mr Khatri told the Nation.

Some of the ward reps have also come out to defend the governor, noting that loyalty to ODM party is paramount.

"I was nominated by ODM and Governor Joho is the deputy party leader. I cannot go against his wishes or the party's directives. Mr Kitula was elected on an ODM ticket, he was chief whip for three years, but what did he do? He is being used by Mr Joho's opponents to cause chaos in the assembly," said Ms Fatma Kushe, a nominated MCA, who is also the vice-chairperson of the Health committee.

Mombasa ODM youth leader and MCA Moses Aran also defended the governor and the party, urging the "rebel" MCAs to resign and seek re-election.

"Tyranny of numbers is a normal thing, and you cannot accuse anyone of wrongdoing. Out of the 42 MCAs, why are the few complaining? Branding us rubber-stamp is a lame excuse. It's a fact that we were nominated, and we must remain loyal," he added.

Mr Aran said the governor has never summoned any of the MCAs to push his agenda at the assembly.

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