UDA closes ranks in battle for Speaker


LENKU’S WOES: The choice of a County Assembly Speaker could well signal more friction with the governor in the coming years

The Azimio and Kenya Kwanza coalitions are almost evenly matched in the contest for the Speaker’s seat, with UDA enjoying a slight majority with 13 MCAs, while the Azimio coalition has 12 MCAs

The Kajiado branch of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party has dismissed claims by a section of the media that its newly-elected Members of County Assembly were divided over the choice of a County Speaker.

The party’s branch secretary Gilbert Matura told the Kajiado Star that all the 13 MCA-elect ward representatives were fully behind the party’s candidature of former Ewuaso-Kidong Justus Ngussur, popularly known as Enteke. “As Kenya Kwanza, Kajiado County is among the many counties in the country where we are set to win the speaker’s position. We have no doubt about it. We have a lot of confidence in our team of MCAs. They are firmly behind Ngusur.”

Matura alleged that Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku, who was re-elected to a second and final term, was behind a campaign of misinformation targeting the party. “Lenku is using all manner of tactics, among them financing media propaganda to bring about mistrust and division within our camp, something I am sure will not succeed. He should be more worried about the division within his camp instead of using his energy to divide a united team.”

The governor, he added, did not want a Speaker with a firm and independent stance to take over at the County Assembly. “He wants someone he can manipulate. Our Speaker candidate is firm and of independent mind, and has a vast knowledge about the house procedures.”

Apart from Ngussur, other candidates eyeing the County Speaker position include lawyer Koin Lompo and the County Assembly Deputy Clerk Kipambi ole Ntele. Lenku is said to be backing Lompo’s candidature and has been trying to woo UDA candidates to his side.

Media reports had indicated that at least five MCAs affiliated to UDA were favourably disposed to supporting the candidate fronted by Lenku, who switched parties before the elections to vie on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ticket.

The governor is said to be at pains to reward loyal groups, sub-clans, and followers who supported his candidature on the basis of trade-offs for various positions. His support for any particular candidate is therefore likely to result in dismay from others who were expecting him to reciprocate, as in this case.

Moreover, Lenku is said to be leading a divided house, as some ODM ward representatives are said to have rebelled and threatened to support the UDA candidate for the Speaker’s seat.

The Azimio and Kenya Kwanza coalitions are almost evenly matched in the contest for the Speaker’s seat, with UDA enjoying a slight majority with 13 MCAs, while the Azimio coalition has 12 MCAs. Thus, Azimio would need the support of at least two MCAs from the opposing coalition to gain an advantage.

The reports of a division in the ranks of the UDA ward representatives were also denied by Ngussur. “This is a fabrication of the Lenku team. We are united and we are fronting one candidate, and that is me.”

Ngussur asserted that Lenku had never been a performer. In his first term, Ngussur said, Lenku’s relationship with the Assembly was deplorable and he had even wanted to oust County Assembly Speaker Johnson Osoi but did not succeed. He further accused Lenku of nepotism in county appointments.

Thus, if the choice of a County Assembly Speaker by MCAs does not go Lenku’s way, it could well signal more friction between him and the county legislature in the coming years.

Ngussur’s experience includes working as the first minority leader in Kajiado County, a member of the County Public Service Board, and as chair of the education committee. Among the candidates being fronted, he says, he is the one who is most qualified.

The aspirant accused Lenku of being a non-performer who was rejected by voters in Kajiado but won re-election because of malpractices. Since he cannot perform, Ngussur said, Lenku wants someone he can manipulate to take over as County Assembly Speaker. “The Assembly provides oversight and cannot go to bed with the Executive.”

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