Kenya: Deputy President Gachagua criticised for troubling Nairobi governor

By Victor Abuso
Posted on Thursday, 22 December 2022 14:51

Kenya's President William Ruto poses for a photograph with his deputy Rigathi Gachagua during their swearing-in ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya September 13, 2022. REUTERS

Kenya’s Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has come under heavy criticism over his attempt to meddle in the running of the affairs of Nairobi’s authorities after attacking Governor Johnson Sakaja at a public gathering.

Gachagua has called on Sakaja to stop interfering with businesses belonging to the Kikuyu community, from the Mount Kenya region, to which the deputy president hails from. 

“We do not want his high speed on how he [Sakaja] is making decisions. I have summoned him for a meeting,” Gachagua said.

Describing Sakaja as a good young man, the deputy president said he would ensure the Nairobi governor ‘slows down’.

“I am the one who gathered the Kikuyus in Nairobi and told them to vote for him,” Gachagua says.

Sakaja, who was elected on the ruling United Democratic Alliance party ticket, has not responded to the deputy president.

The statements come on the backdrop of Sakaja’s attempt to reorganise the city’s transport system. The Nairobi governor intends to relocate passenger buses (matatus) from the city centre to decongest the capital.

The majority of those who are engaged in Nairobi’s transport business are reported to be from Mount Kenya. This is the basis of Gachagua’s argument that all decisions affecting his tribesmen be discussed by business people from the region.

Using tribal influence to intimidate?

However, opponents have termed Gachagua’s remarks as threats against Sakaja, which reflects a lack of respect for the rule of law.

According to the president of the Law Society of Kenya, Eric Theuri, Gachagua is undermining the constitution, yet it emphasises the separation of duties between national and county governments.

[A] governor is not a subordinate to be bullied. In discharge of his functions, he takes command only from the Constitution and [the] law

“[A] governor is not a subordinate to be bullied. In discharge of his functions, he takes command only from the Constitution and [the] law,” he says.

Ledama Ole Kina, an opposition senator from Narok County, has also criticised Gachagua saying he is interfering with county functions.

“My brother Sakaja Johnson, will these people like DP Rigathi Gachagua allow you to make Nairobi work again? Stand strong,” he said.

County vs. national government

According to Chapter 11 of the Kenyan constitution, county and national governments are supposed to perform their duties in a cordial manner. 

The only body recognised by law to check on how governors run their duties is the Senate.

His remarks are unfortunate, that will politically divide Nairobi ahead of 2027 poll

Nairobi is among 47 counties established in 2010 with the aim of mobilising resources and creating a favourable environment for economic growth and prosperity.

Brian Wanyama, a political analyst, says Gachagua’s remarks seek to protect the interests of his community instead of promoting the interests of all city residents.

“His remarks are unfortunate, that will politically divide Nairobi ahead of 2027 polls,” Wanyama tells The Africa Report.

Wanyama adds that on numerous occasions, President William Ruto has been reiterating that his administration will uphold the rule of law and respect the independence of all government institutions, including the county governments. Remarks by his deputy are tantamount to reneging this promise, the analyst says.

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