Elachi learns tough political deceit lesson

Nairobi County Speaker Beatrice Elachi.
Nairobi County Speaker Beatrice Elachi. MCAs want her out of office. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Politics is a high-stakes game where deceit thrives as Beatrice Elachi may have come to realise this week.

For a long time, the embattled Nairobi County Assembly Speaker thought her back was covered. In any case her backers — the ruling Jubilee coalition- hold the majority membership in the assembly which would have guaranteed her safety “politically”.

She was wrong. It is members of the county assembly (MCAs) allied to Jubilee who spearheaded an unsuccessful impeachment against her this week — making a mockery of her spirited campaign for the coalition even after losing bid for the Dagoretti North Constituency seat to incumbent Simba Arati in the 2017 General Election.

Ms Elachi’s conviction to Jubilee was perhaps best registered on October 2, 2017 when she joined thousands of party supporters to form the Jubilee Women Brigade — a campaign outfit. On that day more than 4,000 women went to State House Nairobi dressed in bright red shirts and red berets for a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta. Ms Elachi was declared a general in the brigade.

Her pronouncements in the subsequent Jubilee Women Brigade campaign meetings were hard-hitting against political opponents. Ms Elachi took no prisoners when it came to defending the Jubilee party ideals.

And for her faith in President Kenyatta’s party, Ms Elachi was rewarded handsomely with the position of Speaker of the Nairobi County Assembly.

She took the position with gusto and everything seems to work for her until MCAs from both sides of the divide voted to impeach her last week.

Her bid to trim down costly trips by MCAs seems to have been her main undoing. And for remaining adamant, she almost paid the price of being booted from the plum job — albeit for now.

Ms Elachi first stirred controversy early this year over claims that she was pushing for the purchase of Speaker’s residence.

She, however, later clarified that she was not pushing for the purchase for the sake of it, but that it was a requirement by Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC). This was after SRC stated that they will do away with the Sh150,000 house allowance she and other county Speakers receive every month.

Ms Elachi moved to court a few hours after she was voted out by a record 103 out of 105 MCAs and obtained temporary orders stopping her replacement. In the case filed before Employment and Labour Relations Court, the Speaker argued that she was not accorded a fair hearing by the MCAs.

In the petition, Ms Elachi said she was attending a devolution seminar in Malindi, which was being presided by Deputy President William Ruto, when the MCAs voted to remove her.

She said, through a memo dated September 4, she notified the acting clerk to the county assembly of the travel and got the approval to attend the meeting. But while she was away, the Assembly purported to summon her to a committee of the whole House.

She was voted out over accusations of abuse of office, gross misconduct, conflict of interest and undermining the authority of the Country Assembly Board.

But Ms Elachi argued that she has never been informed or otherwise given sufficient reasons in good time for her impeachment. She said in the course of her execution of duties, no complaints have been levelled against her either with Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) or any other body.

She now wants the court to issue a declaration that the impeachment is a breach of her constitutional rights.

In the eleventh Parliament, Ms Elachi was nominated Senator as a member of the Alliance Party of Kenya. At the Senate, she was the majority Chief Whip, the first woman to serve in such a position.

The tough-talking Elachi was a cross country runner during her school days and even represented her school at the national level. She was also a volleyball player and her dream was to join one of the big clubs such as Posta and Transcom, but she never dreamt of joining politics.

She recently said, in an interview, that she was nudged into politics by former Cabinet minister, the late John Michuki.

Ms Elachi was born in Western Kenya but started her education in Nairobi at Consolata School at pre-nursery before moving to Kileleshwa Primary School. She was later moved to St Teresa Primary School in Malava, before joining Moi Girls Vokoli High School in Kakamega County for her secondary education. She studied Peace and Security governance up to the Master’s level.

But now Ms Elachi is fighting to keep the job hardly one year after she was voted in. Justice Stephen Radido will this morning (Friday) give directions as to whether to lift the orders, barring her removal or give an extension as the battle between her and the MCAs plays out in court.

The MCAs have argued that they cannot be faulted for carrying out their mandate and it was clear from the number of people who voted in support of her impeachment that she was unwanted.