Peter Okondo the Minister who threatened Bishop Alexander Muge with death and it happened

The late Peter Habenga Okondo [File, Standard]

The political season is here and as usual, politicians are making reckless utterances with the potential of causing disharmony.

The loose tongue syndrome once affected Cabinet ministers who made careless statements they could not substantiate.

Mr James Osogo, a former Cabinet minister, named some of the controversial big shots with loose tongues. Topping his list were Messrs Shariff Nassir, Peter Habenga Okondo, and William Ntimama.

Mr Osogo, in his autobiography Honourable Deeds, described the late Mr Nassir as "one of the anointed ones". It was rare for the veteran Coast politician and minister to complete his address without uttering the phrase wapende wasipende.

But it was Mr Okondo who broke the record of ministers with a foul mouth. Controversy followed the former Budalang’i MP wherever he went.

“The other annointed one was Mr Okondo who was also a staunch member of the loose tongues outfit. He made false statements but to the surprise of the whole country, no action was taken against him,” wrote Mr Osogo.

At the time, says Mr Osogo, the irresponsible talk by Mr Okondo caused alarm and despondency, which threatened national security.

In one of his characteristic rumour mongering, Mr Okondo said some people in his neigbouring constituency were collaborating with members of the security forces from a neighbouring country to destabilise Kenya.

He further alleged the conspirators had already imported firearms, which were in the hands of local police officers.

Apart from claiming some opponents in his constituency were plotting to kill him and his supporters and that the Security minister was aware of the plot, Mr Okondo said assistant minister Stephen Echakara was murdered by anti-Nyayo people out to topple the government.

But the most infamous declaration that led to his downfall was when Mr Okondo warned Anglican Bishop Alexander Kipsang Muge not to set foot in Busia district.

Undeterred by the statement, Bishop Muge travelled to Busia three days after the statement was made. Unfortunately, the cleric never made it back to his Eldoret base.

He perished in an accident on the Eldoret-Bungoma highway in August 1990. The incident forced Mr Okondo to resign as Labour minister.

According to Mr Osogo, the influential Mr Okondo once called for the scrapping of Kanu branches and when asked why he made the call, he arrogantly replied: “Well, because I am no longer Kanu branch chairman and the branch is now led by political novices.”