“The matriarch is back!”
The above was the short text sent to me by one of my friends working in Nairobi County Assembly. She had been elated by the return of Speaker Beatrice Elachi.
Now sitting atop City Hall politics, Speaker Elachi is having the best moments of her speakership following her recent re-installation in a deal that revealed the shifting power dynamics brought about by the handshake between President Uhuru and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Unknown to many, Elachi, together with Commissioner Anne Nyokabi, Gladys Wanga and Anne Waiguru, has been one of the brains behind the pro-handshake women caucus known as “Team Embrace”.
The “Girl Camp”, or the “Sisters”, as they are known, meet regularly to plot the politics of women who support the handshake, and to plan their own power games. After all, they know, Kenya’s political landscape is a wild jungle.
The Sisters have mastered the art of the game. They know who to talk to; and when. They lobby. And when push comes to shove, they are not afraid to show up ready for whatever will be thrown at them. It was therefore not surprising when Gladys Wanga showed up at City Hall to escort Speaker Elachi to her office, well aware of the chaos that definitely would ensue – and it happened.
Elachi has nine lives, and with the legal tsunami Governor Sonko is about to encounter, she may just be en route to serving as Governor of Nairobi.
So why is she laughing last? Simple, the forces that led to her ouster have collapsed.
Governor Mike Sonko has lost the tempo of city politics. He has EACC, the DCI and DPP sniffing life out of him. Sonko doesn’t want more enemies, least of all, a speaker who will seal his fate so quick he won’t breath.
Then there is the changes in the Nairobi County Assembly by Jubilee. An anti-Elachi gang led by the just ousted Majority Leader Abdi Guyo has fallen. In their wake, a pro-Elachi Jubilee leadership in the county assembly has been installed, backed by Jubilee Party Secretary General.
Looming large in the background of all of this is the underrated omnipotence of President Uhuru Kenyatta in Jubilee party affairs.
The third factor is ODM which is the minority party in the assembly, but whose working arrangement with Jubilee in the framework of the handshake means the county assembly will always have a quorum to transact critical business. It is also rumoured that ODM is keen to also change its leadership in the county assembly to reflect the new power dynamics.
If it happens, another anti-Elachi edifice in the shape of Minority Leader Elias Otieno will fall, paving way for a more pro-Elachi replacement.
Finally, both Jubilee and ODM seek to maintain a durable law and order in Nairobi County Assembly, which means no radical changes are expected between now and 2022 once the new assembly leadership is fully constituted.
And that, my friends, is the stuff of politics!
Dikembe is a Writer-at-Large for Kenya Today.