The arrest and expected arraignment of Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko could spell the beginning of the fall of a man who has courted controversy since he came into the political limelight nine years ago.
Sonko has not only branded himself as a man of immense resources who stands for justice for the poor, but also one of defiance choosing to speak his mind rather than toe the line of authorities.
Before his win in the Makadara by-election of 2010, Gideon Mbuvi Kioko was a little known young and rich businessman.
When Reuben Ndolo successfully challenged the late Dick Wathika’s election to parliament, Sonko put his name into the race.
His stature, a total contrast to the then veteran city politicians.
He had only been known for his business interests in the public transport system of Nairobi, but he appealed to the poor of the city; with his apparent deep pockets and a heart for the downtrodden, he captured their imagination and earned the tag “Sonko”.
“Mimi si tajiri…nategemea Mungu,” said Sonko in September, 2010.
On the night of September 20, 2010, Sonko trounced his rivals winning the race with over 19,000 votes, followed by Ndolo who garnered just over 17,000.
But soon, the young and flashy unlikely politician was on the wrong side of political decorum. He had taken his unconventional dress code to the honourable house.
“It is not supported in the standing orders but I am representing the youth,” said Sonko in March 2011.
“You will remain out of the house and come back when properly dressed,” ordered Farah Maalim- then Deputy Speaker in 2011.
Despite giving Martha Karua’s party its second parliamentary win, he defied her by supporting the G7 group comprising of among others Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto in their presidential ambition.
Never mind that Karua harboured similar ambition under Narc Kenya.
An attempt to discipline the Makadara MP was an invitation to chaos for the flower party. Crowds of supporters stormed the Narc Kenya offices, blocking the way for Karua. He had been expelled from the party, yet unapologetic.
“Shida ya mama ni kuchemka. Nitarudi kwetu nitafute kura. Nisipochaguliwa there’s life after politics,” said Sonko in October 2011.
Months before, Sonko was already courting controversy. On November 29, 2010, chaos erupted at the Kibera Law courts as the man of the moment faced charges of fraud amounting to a total of Ksh.3.3 million. As is custom now, masses escorted him to the court.
Months later he was seen destroying clamps on his car locked by officials of the very county he would six years later lead as governor.
He was charged with destruction of property and theft of City council property, a charge he denied.
Through his journey, he knew his was a special story.
“Ni wengi tulisoma nao, walienda vyuo vikuu lakini mimi sikwenda na sasa nimewaajiri,” said Sonko in September, 2010.
In 2013, Sonko teamed up with Rachel Shebesh and Ferdinand Waititu to run for the Nairobi county leadership.
Sonko won the Senate election but Waititu lost the governorship. The two would four years later run for governorship in Nairobi and Kiambu but now suffer a similar predicament in charges.
At one time Sonko got into a scuffle with former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero at a Senate committee hearing on June 15, 2016.
Sonko who was not a member of the committee was in attendance and accused the governor of murder and signing off with a few unpalatable words.
Before his father died in September 2015, Sonko had been running a controversial parallel service for the poor under the banner Sonko rescue team.
“I have five hearses to transport bodies to any part of Kenya,” said Sonko in January 2015.
The service appeared to endear him to the poor, but his lifestyle, a mystery to many.
He is a man who leaves around cash in his homes and offices, surrounds himself with heavily armed security officers, guns, high-end cars and is dressed in glittering clothes and jewelry.
In May 2014, a ministerial operation to demolish houses on supposedly government land in South B, Nairobi was called off after the then senator called President Kenyatta and a humble pie was served for then CS Felix Koskei.
Sonko clinched the Jubilee Party’s Gubernatorial ticket for Nairobi’s in 2017 beating Peter Kenneth by more than double his score. His voting bloc mainly of the lower economic class.
Governor Sonko was abandoned by his deputy less than four months into office.
He has had the highest turnover of County executive members and now serves with majority of his CECs in acting capacity.
His leadership style so unique that despite the city crisis both at the executive and assembly, he still affords to enjoy life albeit unconventionally.
He faces charges of graft. Despite efforts to interfere with the investigations at the EACC recently, his arrest and expected arraignment could change the matrix for him.
Should the court keep with precedence set in cases against Kiambu governor Ferdinand Waititu and Samburu’s Moses Lenolkulal’s corruption cases and he is barred from accessing his office, operations in Nairobi could be interfered with.
The constitution provides that in the absence of a governor, a deputy governor should act as governor. But Sonko is yet to name a new Deputy Governor.
Even though the law allows for Speaker of a County Assembly to act as governor in circumstances when the Deputy Governor is not able to act, it is only when the office of the governor is vacant.
Sonko will remain governor until he resigns or is impeached. Former Constitution Implementation Commission member Kamotho Waiganjo opines that: “If Sonko cares for Nairobi, he would appoint somebody as Deputy governor and later ask the Court to allow him formalize the appointment.”
For Citizen TV updates
Join @citizentvke Telegram channel
Video Of The Day: 5 people dead, 32 rescued, 27 unaccounted for in Tassia building collapse
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.
Get breaking news on your Mobile as-it-happens. SMS ‘NEWS’ to 20153
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.