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Beware of politics of deceit playing out

By Alexander Chagema | June 30th 2016

The wailers are at it again. The perennial political losers have begun raising their voices in a refrain that is, by now, all too familiar.

Close to the 2013 General Election, the trigger of some Luhya leaders' grouses against the Orange Democratic Party (ODM) was honourable Musalia Mudavadi’s disgruntlement with the party’s election laws, which he claimed disadvantaged other presidential hopefuls against party leader Raila Odinga. But while that is so much water under the bridge, at the centre of the latest outburst is ODM Secretary General Ababu Namwamba.

First, a recap. What propelled Ababu Namwamba into public limelight was the controversy he generated when, while being sworn in as the Budalang'i constituency Member of Parliament in 2007, he swore allegiance not to the head of state, but to opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Controversy has dogged him since then. Towards the end of 2014, there were grumbles inside ODM. Some of the party’s maverick young turks who had started drifting, perhaps disillusioned by the reality of party politics, were espied to hold a clandestine meeting at a Coast hotel.

The gentlemen, Ababu Namwamba, Magerer Langat, Gideon Mung’aro and Alfred Mutua of the Wiper Party were also accused of getting a little too cosy with Jubilee for comfort, giving rise to the sobriquet ‘moles’. As a matter of fact, they denied the claims, but time has a way of vindicating certain issues.

Alfred Mutua’s defiance to his party is a matter of public knowledge. Magerer Lagat was unceremoniously kicked out of an ODM meeting and quit in a huff. Gideon Mung’aro was de-whipped by ODM and is, today, still wondering what djinn drove him to the party in the first place. He is a Jubilee convert.

Somehow, Namwamba became ODM’s Secretary General; went mute almost immediately and is still part of the party, but perhaps only technically because there has been a lot of innuendo.

His own deportment doesn’t allay growing suspicion against him. In February 2015, Namwamba, the chairman of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC), ran afoul of his colleagues who planned to oust him even as they came up with claims he was corrupt, failed to delegate duties and was enamored of foreign trips. Too, he secretly taped a conversation he had with Raila Odinga. Your guess as to the motive is as good as mine.

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Remember the 2013 hustler’s jet debate? Despite the hullaballoo it raised, the matter did not go far. Ababu’s Public Accounts Committee purported to carry out investigations.

In the midst of accusations and denials, the exact amount of money spent, and whether the hire followed procedure was never clear. When PAC tabled its findings in Parliament in April 2014, there were allegations of committee members having been coerced to amend the report not to implicate the deputy president. Later, PAC was disbanded in ignominy.

During recent demonstrations organised by the Opposition against the electoral agency, Mr Namwamba, the self-styled General was conspicuously missing in battle as the Field Marshalls soaked tear gas. When the ferrets finally smoked him out of his barrow, Namwamba nonchalantly stated he did not agree with his party’s position.

Needless to say, he is not sympathetic to his party’s ideals. Why is he then hanging onto a position and party he no longer believes in? Is it the prestige, or does holding the position of Secretary General serve other covert purposes? Can he be trusted? Let’s for a moment forget the hogwash about hanging on because he is a founder member of ODM.

Nobody is inextricably bound to any political party just because they helped in founding it.Today, it is Namwamba’s precarious standing in ODM that has brought out some feckless Luhya leaders in a fervor of indignation and trivialities. Constant whining about the mistreatment of Luhya leaders in ODM is jejune.

Why would educated, free people allow themselves to be habitually bullied, intimidated and wrongfully profiled unless they have serious genetic defects that do not allow them to function on their own? My summation is that such leaders are not only inept, they are unimaginative. Last time I checked, forming a political party was not restricted.

However, a Luhya-led party is not really the issue here because several have been formed in the region, but to what avail? They wither as soon as they are formed. Today we have the Amani National Congress, United Democratic Party and Ford-Kenya, all headed by Luhyas.

Do they even have the reach and numbers to bandy? Instead of strengthening these parties, some Luhya leaders are busy dancing to a tune only they can hear. And the biggest joke of all is trying to revive some nondescript outfit, the Labour Party of Kenya to cobble Luhya unity. Poor tortured souls, what a long wait that will be!

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