Coastal governor candidates clash over the county’s bloated workforce

Chairman of the Gulf Group of Companies Suleiman Shahbal.[Omondi Onyango, Standard]

The problem of a bloated workforce in Mombasa County has re-emerged as the race to succeed Governor Hassan Joho gains momentum.

The issue has almost dissolved Joho’s first government.

Seat candidates Suleiman Shahbal and Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir argued over the problem, with former lazy or compromised employees blaming the poor services in the county.

Mr Nassir supports calls for the county to get rid of workers allegedly sabotaging Joho’s administration by sideizing with private investors to erect illegal buildings in the county.

Shahbal, on the other hand, says no employee will be fired and criticizes Nassir for threatening the district workers with firing.

Yesterday Nassir said Shahbal was playing with politics.

“It is cheap policy for anyone to claim that if I am elected governor, I will be fired from workers en masse. I’ve only reprimanded corrupt people who don’t enforce planning regulations, ”said Nassir.

During his speech during the distribution of the scholarships by Governor Joho on the Makadara site, Nassir urged the district chief to fire those who helped, or he will, the owners of new buildings, especially in the old town and in Majengo, disrupt sewers dismiss them as soon as he becomes governor.

But speaking to over 700 young people at the floating island restaurant along Nyali Bridge over the weekend, Mr Shahbal turned down proposals to lay off 4,500 district government workers. The politician, who was accompanied by former Kisauni MP Rashid Bedzimba, said no leader has the right to arbitrarily fire county employees. Instead, he said leaders should look for alternative ways to create more job opportunities for Mombasa residents.

“Some people have not yet been elected to office, but threaten to fire district employees once they are elected. Workers have the right to find employment without political interference or intimidation, ”said Shahbal.

Shahbal’s covert attack appeared to be directed against Nassir, who yesterday said he had only emphasized the need for efficiency among Mombasa County government officials.

The district government inherited 4,500 employees from the disbanded Mombasa City Council, which at the beginning of decentralization brought Joho into trouble after long strikes because of late wages and allowances.

The bloated workforce is also widespread in Kwale, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Tana River, and Lamu counties because they inherited the employees from local government units.

At the same time, Shahbal, who recently defected from Jubilee to ODM, promised to attract large investors to the coastal district in order to create jobs.

Bedzimba urged Shahbal to use his vast business networks to ensure he creates jobs for the people of Mombasa. “I ask you, if you take over the office, do not lay off any workers. Instead, create more jobs, ”said Bedzimba.

Shahbal faces stiff competition in his race for the ODM ticket from Nassir and Deputy Governor William Kingi. Others who want to succeed Joho are former Senator from Mombasa, Hassan Omar, and MP from Kisauni, Ali Mbogo.

ODM party leader Raila Odinga has since announced that there will be an open race for the party ticket because he will not support anyone.

Shahbal said he will reach out to big business owners around the world to invest in Mombasa to create jobs. He also said he would make sure the county government invested in large projects like housing and training locals on how to start businesses.

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