A crisis looms at the Nairobi County Assembly with critical services facing total paralysis after MCAs kicked out county clerk Jacob Ngwele.
This comes after the ward representatives, in a motion of privilege on Tuesday, revoked the appointment of Mr Ngwele as the assembly’s clerk on grounds of gross violation of Section 18(2) of the County Assembly Services Act.
The clerk, who is the chief accounting officer of the assembly, is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the assembly and the action by the MCAs now risks grinding to a halt payment of salaries of county staff, the MCAs and ward office staff.
The mover of the motion, Nairobi West MCA Maurice Gari claimed that the name of the clerk was not tabled on the floor of the assembly for approval hence Mr Ngwele is in office illegally.
“Are you further aware that Section 18(2) of the County Assembly Services Act provides that the name of a person nominated by the Board for appointment as the clerk of the county assembly shall be submitted to the county assembly for approval in accordance with the Standing Orders of the assembly?” posed Mr Gari.
The MCAs went on to blockade the office of the clerk by using wooden planks nailed at the entry into the office.
But now the clerk indicates that the action by the county legislators will likely see 140 assembly employees, 123 MCAs and over 300 ward office staff risk going without salaries as he cannot access his office to discharge duties pertaining to being the chief accounting officer of the assembly.
“The MCAs and the staff also risk going without medical cover as we had only one month grace period, which ends tomorrow (Thursday) to sort the issue,” said Mr Ngwele.
He faulted his removal from office arguing that Sections 22 and 23 of the County Assembly Services Act provides grounds for his removal from office, of which none has been raised by the MCAs.
Mr Ngwele said gross misconduct or behavior, incompetence, bankruptcy and inability to perform the functions of the office are some of the grounds that can be advanced to eject him from office but not failure to be approved by the assembly as the clerk is not the assembly’s employee but that of the Board.
“The law on the removal of a clerk is clear and there is already an order obtained by consent of both speaker and the board not to interfere with my contract until my petition is heard. The matter went to court and there was an order that I am legally in office but if they are in dispute they can go back to the same court,” added Mr Ngwele.
A July, 2017 order by the Employment and Labour Relations Court – in a case pitting the clerk against the speaker Beatrice Elachi, the assembly and its board – declared Mr Ngwele to have been duly appointed as the clerk of the assembly under Section 13 of the County Government Act.
Mr Ngwele has not been seeing eye-to-eye with Speaker Elachi since her return, the same with the new board and a section of MCAs who have accused him of being behind the woes bedeviling the assembly.
Last month, Ms Elachi – as the chairperson of the Board – sent the clerk on a one-month compulsory leave on claims of sabotaging the assembly.
This came after Mr Ngwele had sued the speaker and the board a day before, obtaining orders barring his suspension and removal of other members of the assembly’s service board.