Parrying punches from all directions the Kidero way

Among Kenya’s 47 governors, Nairobi’s Evans Kidero has faced more trials than any of his counterparts.

His is a typical case of baptism by fire. If some Ferdinand Waititu is not seeking to have his election overturned by a court of law, then county representatives are ganging up to have him impeached for allegedly slapping Nairobi Women’s Representative Rachael Shebesh.

The saying that politics is a dirty game makes more sense to him than anyone else, and some political commentators reckon it is the massive resources to be found at County Hall that have been his curse as different people scramble for a share.

This state of affairs has fomented unnecessary but well-justified anxiety among his appointees, who are ever-worried whether their man will weather the storm at the centre of which he currently finds himself.

This past week was not any different as Nairobi Women’s Representative Shebesh stood her ground that the assault case facing him must proceed even after Justice Isaac Lenaola gave them the option of striking an out-of-court settlement.

Ms Shebesh has accused the governor of slapping her when she led a group of striking workers to the Governor’s office in September last year.

After the incident, groups like Fida piled pressure on him to resign. The matter is yet to come to rest, with Mr Cecil Miller, Ms Shebesh’s lawyer, insisting he would be going to court on Monday to press on with assault charges the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko has preferred against the governor. Ms Shebesh is also facing a lesser charge of public disturbance.

JOBS AT STAKE
Aware of what might become of these cases, County representatives affiliated to TNA on Thursday asked Ms Shebesh to give dialogue a chance.
“We resolved to have her loosen her stance so they can talk. You see, Nairobi needs both of them, the city is also bigger than any one of them,” said TNA chief whip Hashim Kamau after a Thursday night meeting that was also attended by Ms Shebesh.

The cases, according to Law Society Chairman Eric Mutua, can cost them their jobs should they be found guilty.

“There is no legal requirement that they vacate office because of the charges; it would be premature to bring this up. But should they be found guilty, that is a real possibility,” Mr Mutua said.

In June last year, he had hardly cooled his feet as the county’s chief executive officer when county workers downed their tools due to a delay in payment of their salaries.
Dr Kidero has said that he inherited massive debts from the defunct City Council.

“With a debt to the tune of Sh42 billion, you really find yourself tied down so much that it is hard to get things moving, especially on our development agenda,” he told Sunday Nation.

And widespread as the problem of ghost workers is in the devolved units, Nairobi County is the worst affected with Dr Kidero disclosing that Nairobi taxpayers were losing at least Sh100 million every month in payments to non-existent workers estimated to be more than 4,000, about a quarter of the total work force.

His effort to clean the payroll has also met stiff resistance from the workers’ leaders who fear they might be sacked if an ongoing staff audit is concluded.

NO PEACE
The culmination of it all is that he has made enemies within City Hall and beyond. He is not at peace either in his own ODM party as legislators have accused him of working with President Uhuru Kenyatta, paying little attention to them or the party.

The height of this accusation was when he accompanied the President to China last year. That trip generated plenty of heat as it coincided with another by Cord Governors to the US - his party ODM is the alpha component of the Cord coalition.

And most recently, Mr Kidero came under another attack from ODM lieutenants who accuse him of plotting to take over the political sanctuary of Cord leader Raila Odinga in Luo Nyanza through big money fund raisers he has conducted there in recent times.

At a Christmas meeting held at Mr Odinga’s home in Bondo, Luo MPs are said to have raised serious concerns over his heightened activities there. Mr Kidero, however, clarified that he has never had any intentions of undermining Mr Odinga.

But, perhaps, it is his brand of politics that has isolated him, says University don Tom Mboya.

“If ODM had no problems with him, you would by now have seen the likes of Jakoyo Midiwo rally behind him during his trying moments. But we have not seen any of that, which is quite telling,” he says, adding that the governor is sitting on the fence.

“His politics is that of attempting to please both TNA and ODM, but he does not understand that it never works that way. He must make up his mind,” states the professor.

STILL STRONG

The 56 year old pharmacist from Asumbi in South Nyanza now finds himself in a precarious position, very different from what he was used to in the corporate world where things are done a little more professionally.

Before joining politics, he was the Managing Director of Mumias Sugar Company for a decade.

But, on his part, Mr Kidero maintains he will not be swayed by unnecessary distractions.

“The ultimate goal is to positively impact on humanity. The will to serve the people is stronger than these challenges,” he says.

This story was published by the SUNDAY NATION on January 12, 2013