The erratic and unorthodox leadership style of Governor Mike Sonko at City Hall once again reared its head again on Tuesday last week when he suspended four county officials over insubordination.
County Secretary Peter Kariuki, acting Health executive Vesca Kangogo, County Attorney Lydia Kwamboka and Health Chief Officer Mahat Jimale were the latest victims of the governor’s scattergun approach.
The four were sent home for allegedly contradicting the governor over the happenings at Pumwani Maternity Hospital.
But even as critics opine that ‘the King is slowly becoming naked’, Governor Sonko has vowed to continue with his style, saying that he has no apologies over his leadership style, adding that “I will go the ruthless way as Evans Kidero (former governor) tried the corporate way and failed.”
“It is working and it is going to work. Nairobi needs controversial and fearless leaders not corporates. I will not entertain cartels and the corrupt in my administration. People have to understand me. That is my way of leadership. I deal with cartels ruthlessly,” said Governor Sonko while appearing on Citizen TV.
And true to his words, the City Hall boss has been clearing his house ‘off those not loyal to him’, an exercise that he has been consistent on since.
Even a threat of impeachment by MCAs has not deterred him as he maintains that the county legislators are ‘his friends’.
This came to pass as a threat to censure him has since been shelved with the MCAs, saying they do not have any reason to remove him from office.
However, since the City Hall boss came into office last August, more than 100 county staff have either been suspended or sent packing on flimsy grounds including being lazy, alleged corruption, traveling abroad without his permission and ‘working with his enemies’.
Just two months, in October, into his administration, Mike Sonko suspended 15 officials from the lands, rates, legal, debt collection and urban planning departments for allegedly colluding with a syndicate to steal land whose leases had expired.
Some of the officials sent on leave included legal services director Karisa Iha, senior lawyers Nyagara Nyamweya, Violet Oyangi, Evans Mogire, John Ombogi and principal counsel Newton Mungai.
A month later, he sacked three of his aides – Bernard Mulwa, his former personal assistant, delivery unit deputy director Joseph Ireri and Michael Mutua – for allegedly soliciting bribes from unemployed youths, promising them employment as security constables and firefighters.
This was a warning sign of more to come. And yes, they kept coming.
In March, former Finance executive Dr Danvas Makori was suspended together with his chief officer Ekaya Alumasi for allegedly ‘working for people fighting Governor Sonko’.
Three weeks later, Dr Makori was sacked while Mr Ekaya got back his position but currently his fate is not known after his latest suspension in July 30.
That same month, he sent home 30 county procurement staff on forced leave after they were accused of inflating and issuing Local Purchase (LPO) and Service Orders (LSO) without the requisite approval by the governor.
The same fate also befell the legal department where out of 38 officers in the department, only two officers now remain crippling both the departments leaving them to work on almost empty desks as the revolving door of sackings and suspensions sweeps through.
Another suspension befell another county executive yet again in June. Veska Kangogo, the inaugural Finance executive, was suspended on June 5, 2018 for insubordination after she allegedly travelled to the United States of America on June 1 without her boss’s permission.
She was serving as the Devolution executive. Interestingly she has again been fired as an acting Health executive.
Fast forward to July, another cull fell on three county officers – Chief of staff Brian Mugo, acting chief finance officer Mr Alumasi and acting head of county Treasury Stephen Mutua – after being accused of misuse of public funds.
Two days later, in August 1, Health executive Hitan Majevdia joined the list of county executives to have been suspended by Sonko in his embryonic tenure.
He was suspended together with county health director Thomas Ogaro over alleged laxity at work. Theirs was a public humiliation in front of people who had come to attend the opening of Kangemi TB laboratory at Kangemi Health Centre, in a plot reminiscent of President John Pombe Magufuli’s reign in Tanzania.
His critics say that the City Hall boss likes to operate out of rumours, propaganda and unfounded fears resulting in the tendency to suspend and sack staff at the county left, right and centre.
“You cannot operate an institution without the Finance department and basically closing down the department as a whole and you purport to be running an institution is a fallacy. It has affected the entire operations of the county,” says Embakasi MCA Michael Ogada.
His sentiments are shared by Minority Whip Peter Imwatok who has on numerous occasions chided the governor for bringing to a halt operations at the county by firing staff from critical departments at the county.
Mr Imwatok alleged that majority of staff in legal, finance and procurement departments have been sent home by Sonko pointing out that the governor has fired staff at the legal department which had 38 officers with only 3 officers now remaining for almost seven months now.
According to the Makongeni MCA, the procurement department has also allegedly suffered the same fate where out of the 36 officers in the sector, only two, the director and another officer, are remaining.
“The same staff are saying that everyone is in a panic mode. We cannot make decisions in this county as they are micromanaged by the governor himself. He ran on the platform of being people’s defender but he has turned into people’s tormentor. He is never there,” he said.
There is also a school of thought that the governor is simply clearing his administration of the staff who had been imposed on him from officials he claimed ‘operated from State House’ always citing interference from them.
Political analyst and University of Nairobi lecturer Mr Herman Manyora thinks that might be the case as he seems to be ‘changing the people that he was told to work with’.
“People said the same thing people said of Igathe. Otherwise the governor’s actions are symptomatic of an erratic person- the kind of people who do not have the strategic management skills to approach an issue. His actions could also lend credence to the fact that you can behave like a clown, a cartoon….but still managing to have your way- doing what pleases your heart regardless of what people say,” said Mr Manyora.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.