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Nairobi MCAs decry ‘lazy’ Zoom meetings

Members of County Assembly (MCAs) in Nairobi are calling for the resumption of physical plenary sittings, arguing the virtual ones lack ‘seriousness’.

Led by Deputy Majority Whip Waithera Chege, the county legislators say virtual plenaries on Zoom are not effective with only a few members logging in, and even those who log in are just doing it for the sake.

She pointed out that apart from technical hitches being experienced, the Zoom sittings have contributed to increased laziness and unprofessionalism among her colleagues.

The deputy majority whip cited last Thursday’s plenary which had to end early as the mover of the day’s motion could not log in because of technological hitches.

“The online way of conducting plenary has decreased the house business. What are we really doing in the House as MCAs?” posed the Nairobi South Ward MCA.

Since going virtual in June last year, the city assembly has made headlines over goats invading the virtual meetings, and also some members logging in while exposing their “bare tummies” while receiving massage.

The assembly has been having only two plenary days, twice on Tuesday and once on Thursday with Wednesday left for fumigation. Only shifted to virtual sittings for the plenary, with only the leadership allowed in chambers.

“I’m pleading with our Speaker to let us resume physical sittings with strict Covid-19 preventive measures just like the Senate and National Assembly,” she said.

Nominated MCA Doris Kanario wondered why it is only Nairobi County Assembly which is still stuck on virtual sittings yet Parliament, sharing same locality, are conducting their business physically.

Umoja One MCA Mark Mugambi concurred saying National Assembly and the Senate have resumed physical sittings hence Nairobi should not be an exception.

He said very few MCAs actually follow up the proceedings via Zoom since one can easily log in and engage in other activities on the side.

“We are being paid for nothing as the Zoom meetings have made some of us ‘lazy’ with many failing to log in,” said Mr Mugambi.

“Online plenary has really reduced morale and business. Participation of members has gone down since there are features like raising point of orders which can’t be done via Zoom. It’s killing debates,” added nominated MCA Kabiro Mbugua.

Though in support, Dandora Four MCA Francis Otieno said such physical sittings should only be for members who have been vaccinated.

However, another section of the MCAs preached caution saying that although physical sittings are more effective than Zoom ones, prevention is better than cure.

“We are not out of the woods yet as far as Covid-19 is concerned. So let’s be careful lest we get the high numbers of infections that we had shortly before we were forced to adjourn indefinitely in April when close to 50 of us, me included, contracted the virus,” said Roysambu MCA Peter Warutere.

Minority Whip Peter Imwatok concurred saying health of MCAs and assembly staff come first.

“Zoom is the way to go. What we are doing is to encourage members to bring more business so that we remain as active as before,” he said.