CORD divided over Namwamba succession

Former Public Accounts Committee Chair Ababu Namwamba
Even as the war on terror is causing ripples in Jubilee, things are not so rosy for its rival, the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), where affiliate parties are tussling over who to nominate to head a reconstituted Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly.

The previous PAC chairman, Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba of ODM, was kicked out along with the rest of the team over bribery allegations.

But now there is intense lobbying in CORD on which affiliate party deserves to chair the parliamentary watchdog committee.

The position is the Opposition’s by right, but the tussling will test the unity of the coalition that has ODM, Ford-Kenya and Wiper parties.

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The former PAC team is now being investigated by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) after its dissolution.

News seeping out of CORD indicated that former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka's Wiper party is insisting the position is not the preserve of ODM and so the coalition must jointly pick the chairman of PAC and other members to be seconded to the committee.

Makueni MP Daniel Maanzo (Wiper) said the coalition must agree on who becomes the chairman and who fills the other member positions, but ODM Chairman John Mbadi has maintained the position belongs to the Orange party.

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"We must sit down as a coalition and pick the new members. No seat is the preserve of any party in CORD. We are all in the Opposition and the seat belongs to the Opposition," said Mr Maanzo. But Mr Mbadi maintained that the position must remain in ODM.

"We have not yet decided who should be the chairman. There has been no formal consultation on the matter," said Mbadi.

The Standard has established that some CORD MPs are jostling for the position before the expiry of a seven-day ultimatum within which the names of the members nominated by the Government and Opposition sides are to be filed.

Those jostling for the position are Mbadi, ODM's director of elections Junet Mohamed (Suna East), Ford Kenya's Eseli Simiyu (Tongaren), Abdikadir Aden (Balambala, ODM), Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda, ODM), Jessica Mbalu (Kibwezi East, Wiper), National Assembly Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem, ODM) and Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja, ODM).

Reports indicate some MPs are fronting Ms Mbalu (Wiper), who is also a member of the National Assembly Speakers' panel, to head the powerful oversight team. But sources familiar with the intrigues in ODM's top brass suggested that Mr Wandayi, the party's Political Affairs secretary, is being fronted for the seat.

"(ODM) party chairman John Mbadi is out of the equation. If he will be part of the new team to complete the remaining period of the committee then he will not be contesting the chairmanship. Mbadi had his own personal issues with Ababu and was adversely mentioned as being behind the latter's woes," said the official who asked not to be named.

The official said CORD leaders would consult and agree on the best solution in the reconstitution of PAC.

"I have no idea who will be chosen but I know for a fact that it is not Ababu. Most of us, including myself, are bitterly opposed to this absurd business of always giving everything to an individual as if they have extra brains and spinal cords," said Gumbo.

Simba Arati (Dagoretti North) said CORD should pick a person who would not "go to bed with Jubilee".

"There should not be a problem with any CORD member being the chairman as long as he can keep the Government in check," said Mr Arati.

Critics argue Mr Aden should not be considered for the post because he and Public Investments Committee Chairman Adan Keynan come from the same North Eastern region.

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Ababu NamwambaCORDPublic Accounts Committee