Make or break as Raila tackles fallout

Written By Michael Maunda on Saturday, November 8, 2014 | 11:47 PM

Raila Odinga
Raila Odinga
The disciplinary Committee set up by ODM leader Raila Odinga to investigate the the violent ejection of Executive Director Magerer Lang’at from a meeting sits on Tuesday as the party enters a defining moment that could determine its future.
Mr Lang’at and Nominated Senator Elizabeth Ongoro are among those summoned to appear before the team which is chaired by lawyer Fred Athuok.
“I really want to allow the committee to do its work so please let me not delve so much into this,” Ms Ongoro said when asked about her summon.
The many events happening in ODM set the stage for a National Governing Council (NGC) planned for the end of the month. The NGC will lay ground for the National Delegates Conference early next year where new party officials will be elected.
Mr Odinga’s spokesman Denis Onyango said there was pressure to streamline things in ODM.
“Various groups have called on Raila to steady the ODM ship as the symbol of the reform movement in Kenya. They include opposition leaning church leaders, civil society Organisations and remnants of the so called second liberation group. Some are pushing for audience with him in the week over concerns about the turbulence” he said.
Mr Odinga is said to be considering meeting two ODM MPs who met with Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua in Mombasa alongside Mr Lang’at and posted a telling picture online on Thursday.
Mr Odinga, who also leads the Opposition Cord, is said to have asked Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba and his Kilifi North counterpart Gideon Mung’aro for a private meeting in Nairobi .
Mr Odinga and his Cord co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka — leader of the Wiper party — are said to have been unhappy on Thursday after Mr Mutua posted the photo online.
The two party leaders are said to have made frantic phone calls immediately the photos were circulated seeking to know the agenda of the meeting.
Many in Cord believe the meeting was not by chance even though Mr Namwamba says there was nothing sinister .
A Senator allied to Mr Odinga, but who did not want to be quoted for fear of reprisals, said the party leader was particularly keen to find out from Mr Namwamba the motive of the meeting.  
Mr Namwamba could neither confirm nor deny the said phone conversation with Mr Odinga.
“We talk to Mr Odinga very often, perhaps it could be of help if you could specify which day you are referring to. But then again, why would I divulge the content of our conversation even if he called.
That would not be gentlemanly,” said Mr Namwamba.
Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka are facing a revolt from within their parties.
Governor Mutua is perceived to be working closely the Jubilee government against his party’s wishes while Mr Mung’aro has been leading rebel Cord MPs in Coast and is perceived to be working against the party.
Mr Namwamba is considered to be restless within the party, especially after the botched February 28 elections in which he wanted to be secretary-general.
Critics have labelled him a mole for his perceived closeness with Deputy President William Ruto, but he has consistently rejected the claims.
The Budalang’i MP downplayed the significance of the picture taken at the Coast.
“There is absolutely no reason for hysteria or paranoia when four brothers from the same political divide congregate. All those are Cord birds and they flock together in the Cord house,” he told Sunday Nation.
Prof Morris Mbondenyi of Africa Nazarene University’s School of Law says there is more to the meeting than meets the eye.
“When four birds of the same feather flock together, then know there is something cooking and it is just a matter of time before everything bares itself,” he said.
Mr Mung’aro has publicly stated that he is no longer interested in the affairs of ODM after he was accused of working with the Jubilee government.
He has since been stripped of Minority Whip post in the National Assembly and replaced with Wundanyi MP Thomas Mwadeghu.
“Having lunch together is nothing to raise eyebrows and as brothers and sisters, we will have more breakfasts and dinners in the coming days,” Mr Mung’aro said.
Mr Lang’at, who was violently ejected from an ODM meeting on October 30 and is facing disciplinary proceedings for allegedly criticising the party, said it was wrong to use the mole label against some leaders.
“I am not a mole. In fact, if there is a mole in ODM, then it is Mr Odinga because he talks to the President and his deputy,” said the embattled executive director.
Talk is rife in ODM that those who are not happy with how the party is being run could be working an alternative political vehicle.
A youthful MP, who did not want to be named for personal reasons, told the Sunday Nation that their reasoning was that they were “not stuck with ODM”.
On the planned exit, Mr Namwamba said he has never considered quitting the Orange party.
“We could be having issues, but my continued stay in ODM is not in doubt. I have heavily invested here to quit,” he said.
Mr Musyoka is on record asking Wiper members who are not ready to toe the party line to resign. Governor Mutua is among Wiper leaders opposed to Cord’s Okoa Kenya referendum campaign.
What began as a trickle for Mr Odinga when a team of youthful ODM members— including Mr Namwamba, Kisumu Central MP Ken Obura and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho— told the party leader early in the year to allow a breath of fresh air into the leadership has now become a torrent.
Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi said the “rebels” would soon be held to account. “We are putting party rebels on notice. We are taking the battle to their door steps.”
Sunday Nation has learnt that at least seven MPs from Nyanza, Mr Odinga’s stronghold, could be in trouble for what is understood to be lukewarm support for the party.
Mr Obura who expressed interest in the secretary-general position in February before he dropped his bid could be one of them.
Others are David Ochieng’, Agostino Neto, Ms Millie Odhiambo, Mr Silvance Osele and Mr George Oner.
But they appear undeterred. Mr Ochieng’ said instead, they intended to kick out their colleagues they accuse of misleading Mr Odinga.
Source: Nation Media Additional report by Mwakera Mwajefa and Elisha Otieno.