Azimio to form shadow Cabinet to put Ruto government in check

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Azimio has mooted plans to form a formidable opposition to hold the Kenya Kwanza government in check.

Even with some of its members who lost in the elections shifting allegiance to William Ruto-led Kenya Kwanza, Azimio remains optimistic that its members will help the coalition perform its oversight role.

Insiders have hinted at a meeting bringing together all Azimio elected leaders to come up with a five-year plan.

Azimio is also pushing for recognition and funding of the office of the Official Opposition leader as proposed in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill that was shot down.

Former Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who served as Azimio campaigns coordinator for Western region, told journalists at his Likuyani Sub-County home that the planned meeting seeks to create a vibrant opposition that will effectively perform the watchdog role.

“We want to put the Kenya Kwanza government in check and push them to deliver on their promises to the electorate.”

According to Oparanya, Azimio will constitute a shadow Cabinet as part of plans to have a steadfast opposition that has been missing in Kenya’s politics for the last decade.

“We want the office of the official opposition leader to receive funding from the Exchequer to ensure the country has a strong opposition that guarantees Kenyans checks and balances in the structures of government,” said the former county chief.

On the question of some of its members, like former Kisii Governor James Ongwae, shifting allegiance to Ruto, Oparanya said Azimio was not worried because the move would not have a major impact on former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s coalition.

“Majority of elected governors and MPs in the Azimio camp have remained loyal to the coalition,” he said.

Oparanya said the planned meeting that will be chaired by Raila who is away on a two-week vacation will address many issues that will make the opposition strong.

Former Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya. [Benard Lusigi, Standard]

Oparanya, a close ally of Raila, said the coalition wants a proposal in the BBI Bill on restructuring and funding of the Office of the Leader of Opposition implemented by Dr Ruto’s administration in order to strengthen the opposition.

The ODM deputy party leader said Ruto had made it clear that he prefers having a strong opposition that will oversight his government “so he should keep his word by ensuring the office of the Official Opposition leader is well funded.”

The former governor’s remarks come at a time several Azimio politicians have started trooping to the president-elect’s Karen home seeking to mend fences. Ongwae led a team of politicians from Gusii land in a meeting with Ruto recently.

Strong opposition

On Saturday, Kakamega deputy governor-elect Ayub Savula and Lurambi MP Titus Khamala hinted at working with Ruto’s government.

Savula claimed to have been coerced by operatives within Azimio into supporting Raila’s presidential bid. 

Wiper party leader Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka said Azimio will form strong opposition but hinted at working with the president-elect.

“If I have to meet with Ruto, I will consult my party and Azimio, I don’t operate in secrecy,” Kalonzo said denying reports that he had met the president-elect at Karen.

Yesterday, September 11, ODM’s director of political affairs Opiyo Wandayi said the strength of the opposition does not rely on numbers but on the dedication and commitment to hold the government to account.

Kakamega deputy governor-elect Ayub Savula. [Stephen Nzioka, Standard]

“We are putting our house in order and even if we remain 10 people, we will ensure that we play our opposition role effectively,” he said.

Oparanya has lashed out at Azimio leaders trooping to Kenya Kwanza, terming their actions as electoral fraud.

“You cannot be talking of Azimio this week and next week cross over to Kenya Kwanza because you’re being driven by greed for favours from the government,” argued Oparanya.

The former county chief said Ruto ought to stop enticing Azimio politicians with promises because such actions could take Kenya back  to the days of one-party rule.

“It is against the constitution for the president-elect to woo those in Azimio at the expense of the opposition. We are a multi-party democracy but what he (Ruto) is doing is meant to weaken the opposition and should be condemned,” said Oparanya.

According to Oparanya, Azimio will not be distracted by the defections being witnessed “because the outfit remains strong just like was the case during the last regime.”

Political analyst cum lawyer Ken Echesa said Ruto should not welcome the defectors.

“They should stay in the opposition to ensure the government delivers on its mandate,” said Echesa.