Politics

Lenku under siege in wrangle over CECs

NEWS ANALYSIS

APPOINTMENTS: The spirited campaign by the County Assembly to have the governor table the names of all nominees for vetting was not motivated by a desire for good governance

If the governor sends in names without accommodating the interests of the County Assembly leadership, the nominees could easily be disqualified on one ground or another

It is now emerging that Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku is a man under siege as he fends off attempts by other leaders to influence fresh appointment of County Executive Committee Members.

There is speculation that the ongoing row over vetting of county ministers has to do with efforts by a cabal of leaders to arm-twist Lenku into granting them an opportunity to appoint their own supporters to powerful positions in the county government. The demands to satisfy hidden interests — if not assuaged in one way or another — are expected to morph into active opposition and threats against Lenku’s reign.

Hidden Interests

A source within the governor’s inner circle who requested anonymity said the spirited campaign by the County Assembly to have Lenku table the names of all nominees for vetting was motivated not by a desire for good governance but rather by the push from influential House members to have a say in Lenku’s appointments.

“There is no known law that the governor has infringed. Beyond politicking, his critics know they cannot legally use the issue of reappointing the old CEC members to censure Lenku in any manner. The pressure is simply designed to force Lenku to buckle and allow them to have their own people in senior positions in the county administration,” the source said.

If such County Assembly officials are granted slots for appointment of their own candidates to office, they would then positively influence the approval of the names of all nominees and be supportive of Lenku’s administration. But if the governor sends in names without accommodating the interests of the County Assembly leadership, the nominees could easily be disqualified on one ground or another, presenting a headache for Lenku.

Divided loyalties

Having been elected on an Orange Democratic Movement ticket, the governor is fearful that accommodating the demands and interests of his opponents at the County Assembly would create room for the latter to infiltrate his administration and undermine his administration. The County Assembly is dominated by the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), which is led by President William Ruto. At the county level, UDA used its dominance to have a County Speaker from among their ranks and to take up the Majority Leader and other influential committee slots.

Whereas the winner of an election at the national or county government levels is expected to have a free hand in appointing his team — as President Ruto has indeed been doing by rewarding stalwart allies with national government positions — the demands on Lenku, if he gives in, could well mean having a county government with divided loyalties.

From the look of things, however, Lenku seems determined to hold his fort against all attacks directed at him. He holds the singular advantage that he is on his second term and not eligible for re-election, which means he does not have to worry about the effects of negative campaigns that may derail him from his agenda.

Impeachment

Lenku will however need to tread carefully as the County Assembly may be on the lookout for any significant slips that would give them fodder for an impeachment motion. Such a motion would however have to be approved by the Senate, a step that is not assured going by previous impeachments against other governors in the country.

It is a catch-22 situation for Lenku. If he accedes to the demands of his opponents, that may open a floodgate of other demands and blackmail in future. If he refuses, he will have made powerful enemies and may have difficulty in passing budgets and his legislative agenda through the County Assembly. Either way, he finds himself between a rock and a hard place.

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