Ida Odinga speaks out on her role in ODM campaigns

By Mwaniki Munuhe

Despite her high status and proximity to power, and in the face of high level accusations of acting in a manner capable of costing a political party largely seen as a front runner in the General Election its most necessary unity, she chose to remain quiet and watch events unfold.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s wife Ida Odinga told The Standard On Sunday of her experience in Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) politics and the source of her differences with some politicians in ODM.

Mrs Odinga has lately been in focus over the management of the presidential campaigns of Prime Minister Raila Odinga in a move that has seen some MPs threatening to quit the party.

At one time, the Prime Minister’s campaign group popularly known as ‘ODM Reloaded Team’ stopped their campaigns for Raila, as members, made up of youthful MPs, accused her of interference.

“ODM Team Reloaded have not spoken to me. That is a different entity. I am only involved in Simbanduki, which is concerned purely with the presidential campaigns until after the nominations so that then I am able to campaign for all ODM candidates countrywide. For now, however, we have no preferred candidate everybody should go to the nominations and win the ticket competitively. Mimi simbanduki, niko hapo hapo,” she said

Already, Rachel Shebesh, ODM nominated MP has decamped to Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta’s TNA. Her leaving the Orange party has been widely attributed to strained relationship between her and the Mrs Odinga.

No personal differences

Ida, however, told the Standard On Sunday that whereas she has no personal differences with any member of the party, and has tried over time to restrain herself from responding to the allegations leveled against her, she continues to be bashed for reasons not clear to her.

“I do not know why they keep dragging me in issues I am not even aware of. They should tell people the truth. They cannot be saying they want to leave ODM because it is undemocratic because they are the policy makers in ODM. They sit in meetings to develop policies for the party Ida Odinga doesn’t. Would they be saying that they developed bad policies and now they want to run away from them? ODM is still the most democratic party in Kenya today,” she said.

Part of the differences between Mrs Odinga and the disgruntled members of ODM revolves largely around nominations.

“We have said if you are a Member of Parliament today, whether elected or nominated, then go and contest an elective seat because you are a strong woman now. You can’t wait in the line to be nominated to Parliament. What will happen to marginalised women because we also want them to become stronger,” she said.

Trouble exploded during the ODM Women League elections when a team led by MPs Joyce Laboso, Rachel Shebesh, and Millie Odhiambo lost.

The team accused Kasarani MP Elizabeth Ongoro and Mrs Odinga of frustrating them in the elections.

Ida, however, denies having in any way interfered with the event.

“I can confirm to you that I was not part of the event. The current chair is somebody I did not even know so there is no way I could have campaigned for her. Those accusing me should blame themselves because they were in charge. They conducted the elections and surely when you bring people to come and vote and you lose, then there must be a problem. But that notwithstanding, for the voice women of this country to be strong, we need to be many. We don’t want one person holding five positions,” she said.

Ida, however, said she is of the view that Shebesh, among other disgruntled MPs, should not leave the party and that they should come back to ODM and seek solutions internally.

“My advice to them is that they would rather come back and lose at home. Because even where they are going, they would be treated with suspicion.  They may not even get the seats they want. Quitters are not winners, and winners never quit. If your house is in trouble, sort it out, don’t run to your neighbour’s house,” she said, adding that women must be encouraged to take up leadership positions.

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Ida Odinga ODM campaigns General Election ODM Reloaded Team