Wednesday, August 05, 2020

A pox on your war

As we ponder constitutional changes, let us define a Nairobi Capital City governance system that is insulated from politics of the day, and that is based on professional execution and delivery of services. On the minimum we may need a 10 year “lease” for the NMS mandate to allow it to turnaround the city, before we revert to an elected county mandate. Nairobi has been an extraordinary problem requiring an exceptional constitutional consideration.Soldier on General Badi, Nairobi stands with you
The peoples of Nairobi City County have had the opportunity to elect county governments on two occasions. The first time, they elected a charlatan. The second time, they elected a buffoon. But it was their choice. They exercised their franchise freely and without intimidation. They got the government that they elected. If they want their government to do more, to do better, they will elect one that will do just that. That is the bargain they, and the voters in the remaining 46 counties, made when they participated in the referendum that, among other things, led to the promulgation of a constitution that established Nairobi City's county government. It is time for Nairobi's "saviours" to accept that unless they are willing to present themselves at the hustings, their interventions mean as much as a fart in a hurricane. They should accept this unpalatable fact - and move on.

General Badi and his band of merry men may be doing a bang up job but no one elected them to perform that job. He is unaccountable to the people who matter - the voters (and residents) of Nairobi. No matter how well he executes his mandate, he is not the choice of the peoples of Nairobi and unless he is elected to office in the county government, he never will. No one has the right or authority to grant him a "10 year lease". To even argue that what he is doing falls within the confines of the constitution is to blind oneself to the inherent risks of such extra-constitutional shenanigans.

It is not as if the existing legal framework doesn't provide for a Badi-like arrangement. The Urban Areas and Cities Act, 2011, offers City Fathers the opportunity to appoint city managers to perform the tasks that General Badi is purporting to perform. That the provisions of this Act have suffered the gimlet eye of General Badi's benefactors is an indictment of their capacity to "think out of the box". They are confined in their fantasies of executive imperialism that we thought had been buried six feet under on the 26th August, 2010. Their acolytes, like the author of the unfortunate screed at the top of this post, have conveniently forgotten why we wanted executive imperialism to be cast on the ash heap of history - the corruption and abuse of office that it violently engendered.

That Nairobi City's government is a mess goes without saying. That City Fathers have proven to be corrupt saboteurs can be seen, plain as day, from the effects of the works of their hands. But Nairobi's peoples do not deserve to be cheated of the opportunity to build systems that serve their interests. It distresses me at a professional level that my colleagues in the Bar have been unable to successfully overturn General Badi's installation as an unelected City Father not only on constitutional grounds but on statutory ones as well. (If you were to ask the more serious members of my profession, they will quietly admit to you that the legal framework underpinning General Badi's "authority" is flimsy to the point of being ephemeral. They choose not to shout this out in the agora because it may endanger fat briefs when they are approached to offer legal services in matters connected to this municipal coup.)

One of the most vital functions of the City County Government is regulating "development" - what we know as the building and construction industry. Since the burial of the Nairobi City Commission, development has not only been an area of great graft, but one that has caused untold misery from the dozens of buildings that have collapsed to the spectacular chaos in un-planned construction. What we sniffily refer to as "informal settlements" are the result of development control that has abandoned all pretence at professionalism. Looking at the things General Badi has tom-tommed of his first 100 days, it is plain that he intends to follow a well-beaten path - but with military precision. He brings no expertise at development control and it shows. When the dust settles on his iniquitous tenure, maybe we will find out for whom he was beard. 

No comments: