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Elachi-Ngwele power struggles delay April salaries of Nairobi MCAs and staff

Nairobi MCAs and staff are yet to be paid their April salaries as power struggles between Speaker Beatrice Elachi and Clerk Jacob Ngwele for control of the assembly’s finances continues.

This follows a stalemate over the release of the Sh60 million due to the 122 ward representatives, 150 assembly employees and over 300 ward staff as their April salaries.

PROTRACTED WAR

Speaker Elachi and Mr Ngwele do not see eye-to-eye with the two involved in protracted war that began in early 2018.

While appearing before the County Assembly’s Public Account Committee on Tuesday, Nairobi Finance and Economic Planning CEC Allan Igambi, blamed the delays in the payment of the salaries to the assembly.

He said that as County Treasury, they had done their part by ensuring that the payroll had been processed.

“As the County Treasury, we did our part and the payroll was processed. The delay might be coming from the office of the Clerk,” said Mr Igambi.

The Finance Executive said that he had restored Mr Ngwele as the assembly’s signatory in Ifmis and the CBK, acting on direction from Governor Mike Sonko, being that the embattled Ngwele is the assembly’s accounting officer.

“I was directed verbally by the Governor to consider the advisory from the Solicitor General that advised that Ngwele is the substantive clerk of the assembly following a ruling by Employment and Labour relations court,” he said.

APPROVED

And when the clerk was Mr Ngwele was last month restored back to the Integrated Financial Management and Information System (Ifmis) as the assembly’s signatory to its account after his removal from the position in December last year, the assembly’s Board chaired by the speaker quickly announced change of the assembly’s letterhead.

It later emerged that the change of the letterhead was as a result of the continuation of the battle between two on who should be the substantive Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) account signatory.

As the Clerk, Mr Ngwele is the chief accounting officer of the assembly and is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the assembly key among them the payment of salaries of county staff and MCAs, among other functions.

When reached for comment, Mr Ngwele said that he approved the payment of the salaries on April 30, 2020, as he is the final person who is supposed to give authority on Ifmis, before sending the approval to the assembly’s principal accountant to pick it up then forward it to the CBK.

However, he alleged that the payment was cancelled allegedly by Speaker Elachi before being recalled and voided with the speaker instructing the assembly accountant to restart the process.

“When it came to my level, I approved it two weeks ago. It was also approved by the principal accountant but before it was transferred to CBK, Speaker Elachi instructed the accountant to terminate the payment,” said Mr Ngwele.

DELAYED SALARIES

“They went again and invoiced the money afresh and it has not even left level one of the payment process. She is reluctant to tell accountants to release it as it will still come back to me,” he added.

On her part, Ms Elachi said she will not comment on the issue as it is an administrative matter to be canvassed internally.

However, the committee warned the Finance CEC that he be held responsible if the legislators’ salaries are delayed further.

The ward representatives blamed the County Treasury for restoring Mr Ngwele back to the Ifmis system despite him being considered ‘a stranger’ after the assembly adopted a report revoking his name as a holder of the Clerk’s office.

Nevertheless, the Executive defended themselves saying they acted on a court order to restore Mr Ngwele as the assembly’s accounting officer and not out of malice.

“There was a court ruling that Mr Ngwele is the substantive clerk. If we do not follow the law, we can be sued. We only acted because of the court order and nothing more,” said Finance Chief Officer Halkano Waqo.