Kenya: Anne Kananu Yet to Find Footing as Nairobi Boss, Six Months On

Acting Nairobi Governor Anne Kananu has continued the record set by her predecessors at the helm of City Hall - that of lacklustre performance.

In the nearly six months that she has headed the Nairobi County government, her presence is yet to be felt by Nairobians. Ms Kananu took over in January 2021.

Her major achievement has been unveiling the new Francis Atwoli Road in Kileleshwa after renaming it from Dik Dik Road.

The unveiling was in May and she explained it was after "my good friend and brother bwana (Cotu secretary-general) Francis Atwoli in recognition of his selfless contribution and agitating for the rights of Kenyan workers in the last 54 years".

She also announced in June that her administration would start implementing the Nairobi City County Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act, 2021.

However, the former Disaster Management and Coordination chief officer's in-tray at City Hall has been full of accompanying other leaders launching their projects, paying courtesy calls, attending burials or being a guest speaker at events.

Most productive month

February was her most productive month regarding county events. On February 24, she announced that City Hall had entered into a partnership with the National Olympic Committee of Kenya to put up a world-class sports facility at the Muhuri Muchiri Grounds in Ruai, Nairobi.

On February 23, the Dedan Kimathi University alumna chaired her second cabinet meeting since her swearing-in as deputy governor.

On February 11, she accompanied Kibra MP Imran Okoth to unveil new-look classrooms funded by the Kibra National Government-Constituency Development Fund.

The previous day, she had accompanied Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) Director-General Mohamed Badi on an inspection tour of Uthiru Level Three Hospital ahead of its unveiling by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Earlier that day, Ms Kananu had also accompanied President Kenyatta to the National Cargo Deconsolidation Centre (NCDC-Nairobi) for an inspection of the expanded government facility.

On February 10, she was a guest at an event led by Gender CAS Rachel Shebesh to disburse cheques to various women's groups, youths and people with disabilities at Charter Hall near City Hall.

This happened a week after she hosted a delegation from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) led by Commissioner-General James Mburu on a visit to City Hall on February 2.

On February 1, she hosted Belgium's ambassador to Kenya, Nicolas Nihon, at City Hall to sign a deal over firefighting engines and equipment donations to the county government.

Same routine

In March, the criminology and security management graduate continued with the same routine. On March 2, she hosted a World Bank team for talks on enhancing Nairobi's preparedness for disasters.

This would then be followed by attending the Mugumo Communications Solutions Ltd golf tournament at Royal Golf Club in Nairobi on March 7.

She would then accompany Maj-Gen Badi the following day in unveiling Westlands Laser Eye Hospital. And on March 12, she attended the Nairobi County Caucus celebrations of the International Women's Day at Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital.

On March 16, she presided over the launch of free early childhood development education (ECDE) funds, amounting to Sh80 million, to benefit more than 30,000 pupils enrolled in 232 ECDE centres in Nairobi.

A week later, the deputy governor attended the burial of Kericho Deputy Governor Susan Kikwai.

She then wrapped up the month by leading Nairobi County executives in receiving Covid-19 vaccines on March 29.

Ms Kananu would begin April by wishing Nairobi residents a Happy Easter. This would then be followed by paying a courtesy call to former Prime Minister Raila Odinga at his Karen residence to give him a brief on ongoing development projects in the city. She also gifted him two goats during the April 15 visit.

On April 20, she would unveil the Nairobi Covid-19 feeding programme, which is now under investigation by the EACC over an alleged irregular awarding of tenders amounting to millions of shillings.

A week later, the acting governor paid a courtesy call on Inspector-General Hillary Mutyambai to presumably discuss issues on strengthening security in the city.

That day, she was also one of the special guests from Kenya who attended the handover and assumption of office ceremony and dinner reception for newly appointed East Africa Community Secretary-General Peter Mathuki in Arusha, Tanzania.

April would end with her as a guest speaker at a gender equality and women empowerment forum held at Sarova Panafric Hotel in Nairobi on April 29.

On May 1, she would celebrate her 41st birthday with over 100 children from Hidden Talent Academy, a rehabilitation centre in Ngando ward, Dagoretti South.

On May 4, she was part of a delegation that received Tanzania President Suluhu Hassan at JKIA.

Three days later, Ms Kananu sent a goodwill message to Shujaa Kenya 7s Rugby side Shujaa, who were in South Africa for an invitation tournament.

The next day, May 8, she visited the home of the late former Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Alex ole Magelo to condole with the family.

On May 13, together with NMS boss Badi, she inspected Westlands Primary School ahead of President Kenyatta's virtual session with British Prime Minister Boris Jonhson.

A day earlier, she had hosted an Iftar dinner at Charter Hall for Muslims, an event attended by Samuel Poghisio, Nick Salat and former ICT principal secretary Fatuma Hirsi, Ms Shebesh, Beatrice Elachi, Wavinya Ndeti and DG Badi.

Come May 24, Ms Kananu would accompany President Kenyatta and Defence Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma for an inspection of the Kenya Meat Commission's Landhies Depot.

May would end with Ms Kananu in Kisumu ahead of the 58th Madaraka Day celebrations.

Accompany leaders

The month of June continued the same trend of accompanying other leaders or attending luncheons.

On June 5, she was in Isiolo to attend the burial of Mzee Phares Rutere, the former chairman of the Njuri Ncheke.

Fast-forward to June 16, and she attended the affordable housing project update press briefing in Pangani presided over by Housing PS Charles Hinga. Later in the evening, she received her second dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.

Then on June 18, Ms Kananu attended a luncheon to celebrate Justice Martha Koome on her appointment as the first Kenyan female Chief Justice at Safari Park Hotel.

On June 24, she attended the flagging off of the World Rally Championship Safari Rally in Kenya by President Kenyatta at the KICC grounds.

On the penultimate day of June, she would attend the full Council of Governors eighth State of Devolution address at the Villa Rosa Kempinski.

Renaming of Dik Dik road

Ms Kananu has been busy but Nairobi County leaders are at pains to point to anything she has achieved since she took over.

Most of the elected leaders we reached out to were wary of being quoted in the story because of the "ongoing uncertainty in the political landscape".

Also, incessant requests by Nation.Africa asking her to enumerate her achievements have been tactfully evaded.

She has not responded to our calls since June 14, with her communication chief saying we will have to wait until she is ready to respond.

"She (Ms Kananu) is not able to give you a response now but I will tell you when she is ready to do the same," said Communication Director Beryl Okundi on July 6.

Waithaka MCA Anthony Kiragu said the only achievement Ms Kananu can proudly point to is the renaming of Dik Dik Road.

"I'm yet to see anything. The only achievement is illegally renaming Dik Dik Road to Francis Atwoli Road," said the Jubilee MCA.

Another Jubilee MCA, Roysambu Ward Representative Peter Warutere said he could only pinpoint the achievements of NMS.

"I don't want to comment as there is nothing she has achieved. Everything is being done by Badi," he said.

Assembly deputy Majority Leader Peter Wanyoike said Nairobi is yet to feel the acting governor's leadership as expected.

"It is as if she has copied how Sonko used to work, where you cannot see her in office. The county has not yet felt her. NMS has also taken most of her work and she has been in office for only six months. I also think lack of being sworn in is also limiting her," he said.

Playing by the rules

Assembly Minority Leader Michael Ogada argued that Ms Kananu has tried, saying she has been on top of things.

He claimed that some outsiders have been trying to interfere with her but she has stood firm. However, he could not name any achievement by the DG.

For Minority Whip Peter Imwatok, the answer was terse: "What has she achieved? Where? NMS is working. That's all I can say."

For his part, political analyst Javas Bigambo says Ms Kananu's achievement has been filling the vacuum in the office of the deputy governor. He says she has not proved her worth as the DG.

He opines that she seems to be playing according to the rules and guidance of political masters who enabled her to ascend to power.

"There is nothing she can put on the record of having achieved in the five months. In fact, there is no impactful political leadership in Nairobi and if anything, the name of NMS DG Badi will pop at the top," avers Mr Bigambo.

He adds that Ms Kananu lacks political legitimacy that can make her take full charge of Nairobi.

"Even if she was to be sworn in today, she still would have remained the same way she is only with an official flag on her car and moving into office. She only seems to be keen for photo opportunities for historical purposes," he points out.

He explains that the former chief officer is being held captive by three levels of people: "MCAs, the powers that be and business magnates who run the city".

"This means there are other primary corporate world movers who made sure Kananu is in office. If the business magnates would look away from her then it would spell the end of her time in office," he said.

"So she chose the path of silence as she is not a politician and Nairobi is a war zone. One of the greatest achievements she has made is to get out of the way of NMS to allow it to operate and share in its glory. Her job is to enjoy the trappings of power while someone else is doing the work."

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