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Principals seal deal for 2017 elections

          FROM LEFT: CORD principals Moses Wetang’ula, Kalonzo Musyoka and Raila Odinga are joined by Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero in a dance at Kisumu’s Jomo Kenyatta Sports Ground yesterday.  [PHOTO: TITUS MUNALA/ STANDARD]

By OSCAR OBONYO and JAMES MBAKA

In a move that could see the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) present the same line up as last year in the 2017 presidential race, Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Bungoma County Senator Moses Wetang’ula yesterday sealed a pact to walk the same political path ahead of the 2017 General Election.     

Speaking at a closed door forum held at the Eco Lodge Resort in Kisumu town, the trio vowed to stick together and “save Kenyans from the tyrannical rule” of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Samoei Ruto.

“It is an open secret that in March last year we were victims of poll rigging and suspicious judgement by the Supreme Court. Even in soccer they say you do not substitute players of a winning side,” Leader of Minority in the National Assembly Francis Nyenze dropped the initial hint to those present.

The event, in which members of the media were denied access, went on smoothly but was characterised by intense moments of deep reflections. The Standard on Sunday, however, managed to gain access to what transpired in the hall.          

“This forum must affirm that CORD is going to remain united all the way. Our friends in Jubilee are not asleep. When Uhuru said they would rule this country for the next 20 successive years, it is because they have done their arithmetic and sadly some of us are beginning to submit to this lie,” former Vice President Kalonzo, kicked off the debate.

CORD performance

The forum consisting of CORD-allied governors, senators and County Women Representatives, was held to assess the performance of counties under the leadership of the coalition. The need for unity and the saga involving Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero and Nairobi County MP Rachael Shebesh, dominated the discussions.     

The meeting was attended by 15 senators, 14 governors and seven MPs, including women representatives.?Kitui County Senator David Musila was the master of ceremony during the one-day retreat.

Wetang’ula pointed out that there were some CORD MPs who were “more Jubilee than Jubilee itself,” who needed to be guided to act responsibly. He suggested that the coalition should hold another retreat involving all MPs to address the issue.    

“And while all the governors have a national council and its chairman, a member of the URP party, our governors have no leader. We need to identify a leader of the CORD-allied governors who will speak out for our team and even whip them into a uniform position where there is need,” offered the Ford-Kenya leader.

However, Raila explained that the governors were at liberty to work closely and cooperate with the government: “Our people are more concerned about delivery of service so servant leadership remains critical for all our governors and senators,” he said.

Separately, Wetang’ula advocated the increase of the salaries of the Members of the County Assemblies (MCAs). He argued that it was impractical for the MCAs to oversight governors who control budgets in billions of shillings, while they themselves earned peanuts.

But Amukowa Anangwe, who teaches political science at the University of Dodoma in Tanzania,  poured cold water on the Raila-Kalonzo-Wetang’ula unity efforts describing their move as “a symptom of pathological fear of Jubilee”.

“The attempt to stick together is an admission that each party has lost its value. This is now an alliance of weaklings attempting to politically redeem themselves by seeking safety in numbers,” said Prof Anangwe.

According to the political science expert, a coalition of parties is a political pact set up with the primary objective to share the spoils if member parties win an election. Upon losing, Prof Anangwe opines that parties are supposed to go their separate ways to rebuild their outfits and regroup only if it is inescapable or find new alliances before the next poll.

Expert’s opinion

Sticking together to avoid building their separate parties is counter-productive unless they dissolve their parties. “Alliances keep shifting and if, for instance, Jubilee disintegrates today or later on, either President Uhuru or Deputy President Ruto will want to reach out to either ODM, Wiper or Ford-Kenya party. But under the current arrangement, it is not possible because you cannot negotiate with a crowd,” argues Anangwe. 

Meanwhile,  Raila, Kalonzo and Wetang’ula, moved to quell disquiet?among senators and women representatives who have complained that?governors have been sidelining them from development agendas of the?counties.

The leaders supported the creation of the county development board?to be chaired by senators to map out development for counties. The?Bill is before the Senate and is structured to give sweeping powers to the?board to set the development agenda and ensure equitable distribution?of resources.

“Governors, Senators and Women Representatives must work together,?consult regularly and map joint development programmes at the local?levels,” Mr Musyoka said.

CORD said it would launch major campaign rallies in support of?governors allied to the coalition now being targeted by the Jubilee?government.?“We want our governors to host rallies at their counties in solidarity?with the spirit of devolution so that we can build common approach to?issues and that should start next month,” Mr Musyoka told the leaders.?Wetang’ula said the coalition had been a victim of internal dissent due to lack of party discipline.

“We lost in Kisii because some of our leaders in the coalition?campaigned for rival parties,” Wetang’ula said in reference to the victory?by Ford-People’s Richard Tong’i in Nyaribari Chache. Mr Tong’i, who beat?ODM’s Chris Bichage, was initially in Wiper, but decamped to?Ford-People.

At the same time, CORD renewed claims of a plot by the Jubilee?government to destabilise counties by sponsoring feuds between?governors and members of the county assemblies from CORD strongholds?to sabotage devolution. “The miscarriage of devolution is driven by Jubilee and its?anti-change agents planted by the same government to cause chaos and?squabbles in counties to delay implementation of devolution,”?Wetang’ula said.

He said such wrangles had crippled operations at the counties and?urged governors to stand firm and united to resist such “cowardly”?attempts. “We want our governors to speak in one language that if Marsabit is under?threat or attack, other CORD governors should condemn the illegal acts?in unison from Kisumu to Mombasa to Wajir,” he said.

Coast concerns

In connection to the dwindling political fortunes for CORD in Mombasa,?which has been tilting towards the Jubilee alliance, Wetang’ula urged?the coalition to move with speed to address the concerns of the Coast region. “You cannot start conquering other regions before protecting your?territory. We must ensure that we take full control of the regions?that voted for us,” he said.

Leaders from the Coast have been calling for the formation of a?regional political party in readiness for the 2017 General?Election.

In its resolutions read by Marsabit governor Ukuru Yattani, CORD asked the?national government to take over debts and liabilities owed by the?defunct local government authorities, saying county governments are not?legal successors of the local authorities.