November 30, 2020

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Nairobi assembly sends all staff home, bans meeting as Covid-19 cases surge

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Nairobi County Assembly has ordered its more than 150 staff to immediately begin working from home as positive cases of Covid-19 at the assembly continues to surge.
Further, all physical meetings at the assembly’s precincts have been banned with immediate effect with both plenary and committee sittings to be held virtually.
Speaker Benson Mutura, in his communication to the House, directed that only essential staff will be allowed access to the assembly.
However, both MCAs and employees will from Friday be required to have a negative Covid-19 certificate as a prerequisite to be allowed such access.
“As you are aware our beloved country is facing a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the recent statistics from the Ministry of Health, the second wave of the pandemic is proving to be lethal. As an assembly, we have also not been spared and both our staff and members have been affected,” said Mr Mutura.
“Consequently, no physical meetings shall be held in the assembly precincts. Accordingly, all committee and plenary meetings shall strictly be held virtually. The clerk should also scale down the number of staff in the precincts,” he added.
A week ago, a number of MCAs called for an earlier end to the assembly’s plenary sessions as a result of an increase in Covid-19 positive cases at the institution.
At the time, it was reported that close to 20 MCAs and staff had contracted the Coronavirus with Majority Leader Abdi Guyo saying closure of the assembly precincts could be the only way to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
He stated that a request to suspend all physical interactions at the assembly had been floated by a number of MCAs and that the House Business Committee chaired by Speaker Mutura was to meet to deliberate on the matter.
Speaker Mutura further said that only assembly leadership – comprising of the speaker, majority and minority leaders and their deputies, majority and minority whips and their deputies – shall be allowed into the Chambers with other members, even those with business on the floor, shall follow proceedings virtually.
“Members are encouraged to stay away from the precincts. No visitors will be allowed into the county assembly including committees unless when it is absolutely necessary. Committees intending to invite witnesses shall do so virtually,” he said.
Interestingly, the ward representatives have been asked to uphold official dress code even while on virtual meetings, stay seated, present and focused failure to which a non-compliant member will be disconnected.
“Members attending virtual sittings in plenary and committees shall be required to strictly adhere to the applicable provisions of the Standing Orders especially on upholding decorum and any member who breaches the same shall immediately be disconnected,” said Mr Mutura.
The Nairobi County assembly has partly been conducting its house business virtually since June 2020 when former speaker Beatrice Elachi suspended physical sessions due to Covid-19. However, physical interactions among MCAs have been going on despite suspension of the physical sittings.