The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has been accused of playing ‘big brother’ in NASA and knocking its coalition partners off key parliamentary committee seats.
In what could widen the perceived rift in the Opposition coalition, Raila Odinga’s party wielded its strength in numbers and got two powerful positions in both the Senate and the National Assembly.
There were claims the four parties forming the National Super Alliance (NASA) would share out any leadership slots for the Opposition in both Houses equitably, only for ODM to scheme its way and edge out its partners.
Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC), Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Party and Moses Wetangula’s Ford Kenya felt betrayed that ODM members decided to express their candidacy even in a committee that was a preserve of ANC.
ANC said it was short-changed when Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi of ODM was elected chairman of the powerful National Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
The party had fronted Nambale MP Sakwa Bunyasi, a confidante of Mudavadi, for the position, citing an agreement that involved Amani ceding ground in some house leadership positions and ODM supporting Bunyasi’s candidacy in return.
On Monday last week, a confident Bunyasi walked briskly into the committee room at 11am, with some members teasing him with “welcome chair”, only for him to get three out of 18 votes moments later as Wandayi clinched the seat with 11 votes.
Bunyasi, a former World Bank staff, had hoped his colleagues from ODM and Wiper would rally even the Jubilee members to vote for him, not just because he is from ANC but because of his knowledge in accounts.
Although he congratulated Wandayi and Kibwezi East MP Jessica Mbalu who was elected the vice chairperson, Bunyasi left Parliament and called his party leader to express his disappointment.
He expressed his frustrations yesterday, accusing ODM of reneging on the NASA’a agreement to have the watchdog committee taken by the ANC.
“We had agreed that I be PAC chairman because of my experience after the coalition partners agreed on equitable distribution of slots among partner parties. So it was a surprise that ODM fronted a candidate and rallied members to vote for him,” he said.
He accused Wandayi of colluding with Jubilee MPs to deny him the opportunity to chair the committee.
But an ODM MP, who sought anonymity, said Bunyasi lost because he did not lobby members to support his bid.
“The committee has equal number of members from both Jubilee and NASA, meaning you can only win by convincing both sides. For him to get three votes means he failed to convince even members within his coalition,” said the MP.
The Sunday Standard has established that on the election day, Mudavadi called Lugari MP Ayub Savula to express his disappointment with how ODM messed up the coronation of Bunyasi as the chair of the watchdog committee.
Savula, the ANC Parliamentary Group chairman, would later hold a media briefing, saying they would soon convene a meeting and re-evaluate the party’s relationship with ODM for what he termed as lack of faith and trust.
He said ODM had been treating them with insolence and contempt yet the coalition agreement provided for an equal opportunity.
And now Savula wants ANC to walk out of NASA and start selling Mudavadi as a brand for the 2022 presidential poll.
“We are the owners of NASA, we will run away with it and leave ODM to remain with their National Resistance Movement. We cannot continue to stay in a house where we are not being treated as equals,” Savula said.
In the end, ANC secured only one leadership position in all committees. Its Nominated MP Geoffrey Osotsi was elected vice chair of the Implementation Committee.
In the Public Investments Committee (PIC), Wiper had presented Rashid Kassim (Wajir East) for the position of chair while Gideon Mulyungi (Mwingi Central) to vie for vice chair but both lost to their ODM counterparts.
A disappointed Mulyungi said it was high time they reviewed Wiper’s partnership with ODM, which has shown that “it does not recognise or appreciate” the contribution of the other affiliates in NASA.
“What is the point of having both the chair and vice from one party yet we are also equal partners in the coalition? It is high time we review our partnership with ODM,” Mulyungi said.
While Ford Kenya was happy with the position of Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa as the Minority Deputy Whip, its Secretary General Eseli Simiyu vied for the PAC chair and lost.