Leaders differ on tackling Ababu woes
By STANDARD TEAM | March 10th 2015
Kenya: The decision by the National Assembly Speaker to suspend Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) over bribery claims is threatening to split the Western and Nyanza regions- the bedrock of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy.
Whereas leaders from Western have rallied behind the embattled PAC chair and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Secretary General Ababu Namwamba, their counterparts from Nyanza have resorted to a different approach on the issue.
ODM and United Democratic Front (UDF) leaders are blaming Namwamba’s woes to infighting within ODM that is targeting leaders from Western. Sirisia MP John Waluke (ODM), Raphael Otaalo (Lurambi) and UDF Secretary General Kizito Mugalia have come out to defend Namwamba, saying all committees in Parliament have integrity issues and should be disbanded and investigated. They have claimed a wider plot to target leaders from the region.
“It started with Ayub Savula (UDF Lugari), former chair of Agriculture Committee. He was kicked out as chair on flimsy grounds after he differed with Agriculture Cabinet Secretary. And now it’s Namwamba who is being fought by some of ODM MPs,” said Kizito, a former Shinyalu MP.
“Namwamba’s star was rising and someone could be working behind the scenes to cut him to size. He may be in a different party but when faced with ‘manufactured’ trouble, we have to stand by his side,” added Mr Kizito.
Mr Waluke pointed alleged witch-hunt in the Orange party, which he said if not checked will wreck the party that enjoys a large following in Western.
“Omondi Anyanga (ODM, Nyatike) has been eyeing the PAC chair position. Such are the people who want to destroy this party but I feel that Namwamba will be vindicated. The investigations are going nowhere. But most importantly, ODM is a national party that must have a national look... Anyanga should leave Namwamba alone,” he said.
Anyanga is said to have defied ODM party leader’s instruction to save Namwamba from being toppled as PAC chair and he voted along a dozen Jubilee MPs to remove the embattled MP.
Mr Otaalo also read political power play in the predicaments of the PAC chair. “The star of Namwamba since he won the ODM Secretary General seat has steadily been rising, causing discomfort to many. You learn he is a threat when for instance some ODM leaders opted to vote to throw him out,” he said.
Otaalo said the findings by the Powers and Privileges Committee on the PAC and especially on Namwamba as a person must be fair.
As leaders from Western region saw a political hand in Namwamba’s woes and are accusing their counterparts from Nyanza of not coming out strongly to defend him, some Nyanza leaders, however, see the unfolding events as a committee affair and not an issue about an individual.
Kisumu East MP Shakeel Shabir (ODM) said PAC matters were not a party issue and that many parties were affected with the dissolving of PAC.
“Disbandment of PAC has not affected us as a party and it is dealt with at committees’ level according to Standing Orders. Let us rule out party politics to the effect that anyone is targeted or not when a committee is in the process of investigation,” he said on phone.
Shakir, however, refused to say whether he is supporting Namwamba or not, instead maintaining that the matter is under investigations.
ODM Chairman John Mbadi (Suba) declined to comment on the issue. “I will not comment on the PAC matters because whenever I do, I am misquoted. People want to create a big thing out of PAC matters yet I see nothing big in it,” he said before requesting not to comment further.
ODM Political Affairs Secretary Opiyo Wandayi yesterday stated that ODM does not have an official party position on the matter and that they want due process to take its course. “We shall demand that the investigative House committee conducts its proceedings in the open and transparently,” said Wandayi.
What has complicated matters for Namwamba is an alleged secret recording of a conversation with the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, where it is said some PAC members received bribes to alter some reports of the committee.
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