Order NASA to stop using our name, lobby tells court in battle with Raila

NASA principals Musalia Mudavadi (second from left), Moses Wetang'ula, Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka at a rally at Masinde Muliro grounds in Nairobi. [FILE, STANDARD]

With intense and delicate talks over a presidential candidate for Kenya’s Opposition, a hitherto little-known non-governmental organisation has moved to court claiming the acronym NASA.

The NGO wants the Raila-Kalonzo-Mudavadi-Wetang’ula team blocked from being registering Nasa as a political party. Northern Advocacy for Sustainable Agriculture (NASA) has gone to court seeking orders to stop the Registrar of Political Parties from registering the coalition.

It is also emphatic that henceforth, the Opposition politicians should be stopped from using the acronym ‘Nasa’ in reference to their coalition in meetings and rallies.

Northern Advocacy for Sustainable Agriculture, also known as ‘NASA’ in the files of the NGO Coordination Board – the government’s prefect of all NGOs in the country – has a certificate of registration bearing the date August 29, 2016.

In the three prayers which The Saturday Standard has seen, the High Court is being urged to issue a “declaration” that only the lobby can use the acronym ‘NASA’, and a guarantee that the politicians will be forced to look for another name.

“A declaration that (Nasa, the NGO) has sufficient legal rights over the name and acronym, NASA, and is entitled to enjoy its exclusive use and operations to the exclusion of the (Nasa, the politicians), their servants or any person claiming through them,” reads the court papers filed yesterday.

The NGO insists that it has a right to the name, because, “it is a prior registered entity fully operating on the ground and has invested heavily in the promotion of its flag and brand” while the Opposition politicians are “still struggling to organise”. Through city lawyer Sam Ogutu, the NGO wants the case filed under a certificate of urgency. Pending the full hearing, the lawyer has asked the court to block the politicians from even uttering the name ‘Nasa’.

“..this Honourable Court be pleased to issue an interim injunction against the first defendants (National Super Alliance), their agents or servants to restrain them from the use of the word or acronym ‘NASA’ as the official or unofficial names of the political party or intended political party for any reason whatsoever pending hearing and determination of the application inter partes,” reads the court papers..

The aim of the NGO is to get “permanent injunctions” against the Opposition coalition to drop the name NASA in their slogans and rallies, and against Registrar of Political Parties not to register the political grouping. It is a move that if successful will force the coalition to drop what has so far been a popular name and slogan.

It is part of the political pressure that the Opposition leaders – Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula – are facing just four months to the elections as they keep their opponents guessing and their supporters anxious over their candidate for the August 8 elections.

The fight for the acronym NASA joins the litany of troubles the Opposition coalition has, including an ultimatum that Minority Leader Francis Nyenze issued that Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka should be given the ticket.

As a Kiswahili word, ‘Nasa’ means ‘capture, trap or catch’, and the Opposition has been using it as a slogan to tell voters that the time had come to capture the ruling Jubilee administration and send it home. As an acronym, it stands for National Super Alliance.

The agricultural lobby, which primarily operates in Northern Kenya, has also complained that since the Opposition leaders came together and started using the name, its revenues had dropped because donors were hesitant to fund a body with ties to a political party – just in case they run afoul of President Kenyatta’s order that foreigners should not fund political activities. The NGO’s move arouses memories of the struggle over the Orange movement involving Raila and Kalonzo following the successful No campaign during the 2005 Constitution referendum on the Bomas draft.

City lawyer Mugambi Imanyara covertly registered the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) as a political party ahead of the 2007 elections, forcing Raila, Kalonzo, William Ruto and Mudavadi to register ODM-Kenya.

Moments to 2007 elections, Raila and Kalonzo segregated, with Kalonzo taking off with the new party. ODM-Kenya had been registered by Kalonzo’s ally, MP Daniel Maanzo.