August 20th 2017

Top Stories / 2017 Elections

Sensing hostility to Jubilee, Kisii ODM defectors beat retreat as party expels rebels

While Kisii has been perceived as a battleground region, ODM has gained in popularity there in recent years and the by-election, according to analysts, could foreshadow a 2017 election in which Kisii voters would punish pro-Jubilee leaders.

By Oscar NdundaMonday, 31 Oct 2016 17:05 EAT

ODM secretary general Agnes Zani at the meeting. (Photo: Dr Zani's Facebook page).

Two ODM MPs from Kisii County who had decamped to Jubilee have returned to their party and "apologized" for their misadventure and asked the party to accept them back. Richard Onyonka (Kitutu Chache North) and Simon Ogari (Bomachoge Chache) publicly apologized to ODM officials at the Bomas of Kenya during the party's National Governing Council meeting early today.

“We have realized that nothing is going to be done and the country is taking the wrong direction, that is why we would rather stay in ODM and work with the party,” said Onyonka. Mr Ogari declared his loyalty to the party in a hilarious manner: "Mimi sijatusi baba. Sijatusi chama changu ODM. (I have never spoken ill of Raila Odinga, or of my party ODM." The turnaround by the two leaders comes barely a week after ODM won the Nyacheki by-election in Kisii by a wide margin, despite massive voter bribery by pro-Jubilee operators.

Mr Onyonka was forcefully chased from polling stations in the ward by ODM youths baying for his blood. While Kisii has been perceived as a battleground region, ODM has gained in popularity there in recent years and the by-election, according to analysts, could foreshadow a 2017 election in which Kisii voters would punish pro-Jubilee leaders.

The ODM governing organs converged this morning to discuss the fate of MPs and other leaders who had announced their defection to the recently-launched Jubilee Party. The party pardoned two leaders: Marsabit Governor Ukur Yatani and Igembe Central MP Cyprian Kubai, who had appealed for leniency during disciplinary hearings.

It announced the expulsion of ten members: Salim Mvurya (Governor of Kwale), Joash Maangi (Deputy Governor, Kisii), MPs Steven Kariuki (Mathare), Samuel Arama (Nakuru West), Ababu Namwamba (Budalangi), Masoud Mwahima (Likoni), John Waluke (Sirisia), Isaac Mwaura (Nominated) and Zainab Chidzuga (Kwale Women Rep) and Viwandani MCA Samwel Nyangwara.

The party has communicated its decision to the Registrar of Political Parties who will be expected to ratify the decision and communicate with Speaker of the of National Assembly and the Electoral Commission so that the seats can be declared vacant and by-elections held. The expelled leaders can contest the decisions in court.

The 13 members whose decisions were finalised today had been summoned before the party disciplinary committee on October 7 to explain why their names should not be sent to the Registrar of Political Parties for de-registration. Last week, the party de-whipped all defectors from various committees in the National Assembly. It also summoned MPs Mpuri Aburi (Tigania East), Mustafa Idd (Kilifi South), Gideon Mung’aro (Kilifi North), Chachu Ganya (North Horr) and James Rege (Karachuonyo) for disciplinary hearings.

The expulsions broke new ground for the party, which previously only perennially threatened action against defectors but moved no inch in that direction. Being the largest political party, ODM's indifference to defections by its members has undermined not only the party but Kenya's democratic governance.

In the last Parliament, ODM lost more than a quarter of its parliamentary membership within years after the 2007 general elections. None of the 'defectors' were punished, and they remained legally in the party, rocking it from within, until the 2013 election.

The defections witnessed in Kenya since 2013 are unprecedented. A majority of the MPs who were elected on the tickets of UDF, Kanu and Kenya National Congress have joined the Jubilee Party in flagrant violation of the law.

The writer is the news editor of the Kenya Free Press





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