Coast MPs unhappy with NASA leaders as Jubilee exploits divisions

Kilifi North MP Owen Baya has dismissed NASA House leadership list. [PHOTO:GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD].

Opposition leaders are expected to convene a crucial parliamentary group meeting this week as discontent among legislators from the Coast persists.

Their ultimate goal remains fuzzy, but the legislators insist to be only protesting unfair treatment.

In an interview with the Sunday Standard, some MPs revealed that they do not intend to defect, but are only interested in standing their ground to secure advantage within NASA.

Already, local Jubilee leaders, led by Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, are exploiting the split and urging the aggrieved NASA legislators who, first raised this matter in September, to join them.

Some NASA leaders have accused the protesting MPs of rocking the boat from within yet the matter is under discussion by NASA principals.

Jubilee leaders are eager to ensure the tiff blossoms into full blown turmoil, according to some sources who believe top regime officials could be plotting to meet protesting NASA leaders to ensure they harden their stance in order to frustrate Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Local pundits have weighed in on the matter. One analyst believes none of the protesting MPs deserve or qualifies for the posts they are lamenting that they have been denied.

“We will be attending a parliamentary group meeting next week where our grievances will feature,” said an MP who sought anonymity.

However, analysts say the Coast legislators have no option but to toe the line or form their own political party altogether.

Mr Morris Mbondenyi, a law scholar has argued that the grievances the NASA lawmakers are raising were similar to what happened after the 2013 General Election, when the region was allocated only the Opposition of Minority Whip through Gideon Mung’aro.

Prof Mbondenyi said the MPs were expected to “play flower-girl” role and take the backseat because they are not seen to be aggressive in propagating the Opposition agenda.

“In 2013, the Coast region elected many MPs on ODM ticket but they got a raw deal from the party. I asked Mr Mung’aro how they benefited because politics is about interests. I even suggested that they brainstorm with professionals on the matter and perhaps form a Coast-based political party but they idea fizzled out,” Prof Mondenyi, deputy director at the Kenya School of Law, argued.

He further argues that Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and his Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi could have turned to the campaign for secession because of frustration.

The Coast NASA legislators, led by Coast Parliamentary Group (CPG) chairman and Msambweni MP Suleiman Dori, on Wednesday protested the list of positions shared out in Parliament by NASA.

The submission of the list of names to the National Assembly and Senate prompted a walkout by Coast MPs saying that they had been shortchanged.

“I oppose the list from the start because it has no gender balance. The list was formulated without any consultation among the affiliate parties. There was no parliamentary group meeting to endorse the same,” protested Dori.

In the controversial list, Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetangu’la was named Senate Minority Leader, James Orengo (deputy Senate Minority Leader), John Mbadi (National Assembly Minority Leader) and Robert Mbui (National Assembly Deputy Minority Leader).

Others were Mutula Kilonzo Jnr as Senate Minority Whip, Ms Petronilla Were as Senate Deputy Minority Whip, Junet Mohamed (National Assembly Whip) and Chris Wamalwa as National Assembly Deputy Minority Whip.

Influential people

But Pwani University lecturer, Hassan Mwakimako, said none of the Coast MPs was influential enough to hold the positions in both National Assembly and Senate that have so far been shared by NASA coalition parties.

“The positions so far shared out need influential people in the National Assembly and Senate to articulate the NASA agenda. None of the Coast MPs fit this bill as they have not demonstrated this in their contribution to parliamentary debate,” Prof Mwakimako said.

He, however, said the MPs can now seek the committee positions or quit ODM if they feel dissatisfied.

“The other time the position of ODM Minority Whip was assigned to the Coast region and the holders were not very effective. This is why the seat been allocated to another individual of proven ability from another region. Coast legislators should stop the noise and become more active in parliamentary business,” argued Prof Mwakimako.

Kilifi North MP Owen Baya also dismissed the list, saying that the Coast region had been marginalised for long and they would not accept to be humiliated in NASA.

“This is the time we break ranks and be ready to go our separate ways if our concerns are not addressed,” Dr Baya had argued.

Meanwhile, Mr Balala has urged Coast MPs to join the Jubilee Party following their dissatisfaction with the sharing of positions in Parliament. Balala is the Jubilee Party point-man in Coast.

He said the Government would cater for their own interests and those of the National Assembly. He cautioned the MPs that the more they remained in the Opposition the more they were going to suffer under Raila leadership.

“We are ready to sacrifice JP’s 10 slots in Parliament for ten aggrieved Opposition legislators,” Balala said.

He appeared to ride on the controversy saying the Government could accommodate the protesting MPs and serve their interests as long as they are ready to serve under President Kenyatta’s regime.

The CS said he was amused to note that NASA appointed Mr Mbadi (ODM, Suba South), to be the Minority Leader and his Suna East counterpart Mr Mohammed to be the Whip while both come from Migori County while the Coast region that overwhelmingly backed ODM missed out.

Balala said he had worked with Raila as his boss before for 10 years arguing that he knew him better than the local newcomers.

He described Raila as allegedly out to “undermine other people for his personal gain.”

“It is not yet late for you to defect to the government side and you should not fear that the move will necessitate a by-election,” Balala assured the dissenting MPs. 

The CS claimed Raila was not genuine in his style of politics arguing that the Opposition leader seeks what would benefit him “personally and not others.”