Their bark worse than their bite, political parties don’t scare defectors

Kakamega Senator Cleopas Malala (in coat) is staring expulsion from the Amani National Congress Party at the face.

 That is if the recent move by the party to suspend him isn’t political hot air.

The ANC leadership led by NASA co-principal Musalia Mudavadi has accused Senator Malala of betraying the party by campaigning for ODM candidate George Imran Okoth in the recent Kibra by-elections.

ANC party candidate Eliud Owalo came third after Jubilee’s MacDonald Mariga as Imran carried the day.

But as the dust settled, out sprung another political battle pitting Malala against the party that sponsored him to the Senate.

“After careful reflection and deliberation, ANC has decided to take necessary disciplinary action against this member (Malala) on grounds that his conduct seriously offends not only ANC party laws but Statute laws as well,” Committee Chair Yare Mohammed said on November 15.

Mohammed cited Malala’s donning of a cap branded with ODM party emblem as a significant evidence of his betrayal and disregard for the party rules.

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The ANC members and supporters dared him to defect and contest on a different ticket, adding that they would send him to political dustbin.

But on Saturday, Malala put on brave face and unapologetically declared that he would not recant his support for ODM candidate in the poll.

To his defence was the ANC Nominated Member of Parliament Godfrey Osotsi who accused his party of witch-hunt.

Speaking to Standard Digital on Malala’s suspension, Osotsi said that he and the Senator knew that ODM was destined for victory hence their decision to support Imran.

“Political support cannot be realised through blackmail, fraudulent activities and intolerance. Hon. Mudavadi knew from the word go the possible outcomes of the Kibra by-election and should stop shadow boxing and engaging in unworthy exercise of creating sacrificial lambs,” he said.

Before Malala, Osotsi raffled feathers in ANC and it was even uglier.

So intense was Osotsi’s defiance that in May 2019 the Registrar of the Political Parties Anne Nderitu wrote to IEBC to declare his position vacant after striking his name off the ANC party register.

“Our work is simply to strike off the name of the member from the party’s register. It simply means that he is no longer a member of ANC party. Expulsion is now the work of the party,” said Nderitu.

But Osotsi somehow survived. He is mostly seen in the company of ODM legislators especially during press conferences.

One would be forgiven for mistaking him and Malala for ODM legislators.

However, politics of verbal defection is also eating into the Orange party as Malindi Member of Parliament Aisha Jumwa is leading the Inua Mama campaign, a group of women legislators allied to Deputy President William Ruto.

Like Osotsi, Aisha had to challenge her expulsion from the Orange Party in court after which she got a reprieve. Ironically, after surviving the axe, her defiance has solidified to the extent that she fronted a different candidate in Ganda Ward by-election, which ODM won.

Law versus interest

Attempts by the political parties to expel rebel members have often been thwarted by court decisions.

 This spurs even more fury and outburst from rebel legislators who appear cushioned by the law.

For instance, the Political Parties Act 2011 section 14 (5e) prohibits a member of a political party from advocating policies of another party.

It states: “If a person in any way or manner, publicly advocates for the formation of another political party; or promotes the ideology, interests or policies of another political party, shall, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1) or the provisions of any other written law, be deemed to have resigned from the previous political party.”

But being that the dissolution of the NASA Coalition is yet to be officially confirmed, the defectors seem to be taking cover on the protection offered by a section of the same law.

Under this law, members befriending other parties within the same coalition are not adjudged to have resigned and shifted to other parties.

“Subject to specific provisions of a coalition or merger agreement, subsection(5)(c), (d) and (e) (or resignation) shall not apply to a member of a political party which enters into a merger or a coalition with another party,” it states.

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Cleopas MalalaMusalia MudavadiODM partyDefectors