What began as squabbles in Makueni and Machakos counties have transformed into attempts to have the Wiper Democratic Movement dissolved altogether.
On Friday, three party members filed a petition with the Registrar of Political Parties seeking to have the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) affiliate party led by former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka de-registered.
The three — Katunge Mulinge, Johnson Kiiti and Jane Kanyenya from Mwala constituency — have listed failure to hold party elections, failure to conduct party primaries, improper composition of party leadership among others as grounds to strike off the party.
They say records at the Registrar of Political parties only indicate the party has five national officials: David Musila (chairman), Mohamed Affey (deputy chair), Esther Keino (deputy secretary general), Shakila Abdalla (treasurer) and Johnson Muthama (chair, resource mobilisation).
They aver that the party does not have a party leader, two deputy leaders, three deputy chairs, a secretary general, one deputy secretary, organising secretary, two deputy organising secretaries, two deputy treasurers and sixteen secretaries.
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“Wiper has failed to conduct elections within five years as required by its constitution hence failing to have a properly constituted national executive council, national delegates conference and national governing council,” the three said in the petition.
The three say all members of the Wiper organs are in office illegally and any decisions they make or have made are null and void. The three say the party failed to submit its 2013-14 audited financial statement with the registrar of political parties.
The petition has been filed through lawyer Ben Musau, who participated in the Mwala constituency Wiper nominations for the 2013 elections.
Mulinge, Kiiti and Kanyenya accuse the party of failing to conduct nominations in the Makueni senatorial by-election following the death of area senator and party secretary general Mutula Kilonzo.
“Wiper had initially handpicked Kethi Kilonzo as the candidate but when she was disqualified, the party handpicked Mutula Kilonzo Junior contrary to Article 23 of the Wiper Election and Nomination Rules which requires the party to hold a primary election where more than one candidate qualifies for nomination,” they said.
The three say the Wiper constitution is unconstitutional. They say Article 11.2C provision that appeals from the Wiper Elections Appeals Board shall be final and will not be appealed in any court of law contradicts Article 165 of the Constitution of Kenya, which provides for appeals to the High Court.
They say despite the illegitimacy of Wiper’s organs, the party recently purported to expel Machakos County Assembly Majority Leader Joshua Mwonga, his Makueni counterpart Francis Mutuku and five women nominated MCAs.
“Wiper has contravened Article 28 of the Wiper constitution by failing to give the elected and nominated members an opportunity to be heard before purporting to expel them,” they say.
The MCAs were expelled after they failed to toe the party line on the impeachment of Machakos Deputy Governor Ben Kiala and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana. The petitioners say the MCAs were elected to act in the best interests of the people, through making of laws, oversight and approval of executive plans.
But the three say the party contravened Section 14(7) of the Political Parties Act which provides that a member can only be expelled from the party only after they have been afforded a fair opportunity to be heard.
“It is contrary to the objects of devolution to require MCA’s to act in a manner that meets the expectations of some persons purporting to exercise the powers and functions of some non-existent or improperly constituted national executive organ in total disregard of the public interest,” the petition says.
Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka confirmed receipt of the petition but wished it away saying it is politically contrived to gain sympathy for the expelled Wiper MCAs.
“It’s all contrived by desperate fellows, dissatisfied with the disciplinary action we took on them after an elaborate party process. Our position remains and it’s a firm one. We will not tolerate impeachment of a governor or deputy governor at all,” Musyoka said.
He said Wiper is “among the best run political parties in the country”, that its governing council meets regularly and that the party will “soon” hold its elections. He said the thought of de-registering a “strong party as Wiper” with so many sitting MPs is itself unimaginable.
Musila, the party chair described the petitioners as “busy bodies.” He said the petitioners may have been misadvised to re-open the expulsion matter through the back door.
“I have not seen the petition myself. We will deal with it appropriately as and when we receive it,” Musila added.
In their petition, the three say their desire to participate in Wiper activities has been thwarted by failure to hold party events under the law. They also claim the party has been personalised and hijacked by a few individuals who make all decisions for the party.
“The decision makers include Hon Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, Hon Johnston Muthama and Hon David Musila who have been making decision including handpicking of candidates without primary elections and also making major decisions without involving the required structures,” the petition says.
Under Section 21 of the Political parties Act, the registrar of political parties can actually deregister a political party if it contravenes Article 91 of the constitution. Article 91 says every political party must have a national character, have a democratically elected governing body and abide by principles of good governance.
It also requires political parties to respect the rights of all persons to participate in political processes, respect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, promote objects and principles of the Kenyan constitution among others.
The registrar can also deregister a political party if it does not promote free and fair nomination of candidates, does not adhere to the law relating to nomination of candidates, does not respect national values and principles of the constitution among others.
Before doing so however, the registrar must inform the political party of the particulars of the breach, inform it of intention to deregister it and require the party to remedy the issues at question within 90 days.
Yesterday, Registrar of Political parties Lucy Ndung’u confirmed that she had not personally received the petition as she had been away in Kajiado on Friday. The document was however stamped as received by both her office and Wiper secretariat.