NASA principals meet amid disquiet in partner parties
By Protus Onyango and Moses Nyamori
| January 15th 2018
Opposition alliance party leaders will be meeting today to try to stem the divisions which are threatening to tear the coalition apart.
The National Super Alliance (NASA) summit meeting comes in the backdrop of a simmering row triggered by the sharing of parliamentary leadership positions and fears of dominance by one partner party.
The wrangling has forced leaders of the four partner parties, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Wiper Party, Amani National Congress ANC) and Ford Kenya to a crisis meeting.
At the heart of the wrangles is what some partners deem as unsatisfactory sharing of eight parliamentary leadership positions.
Leadership of two powerful watchdog committees meant for the Opposition: Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Public Investments Committee (PIC), has also generated some disquiet.
Raila Odinga’s ODM has taken leadership in the two watchdog committees through Opiyo Wandayi (PAC) and Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir (PIC).
The party has also submitted two names for the three PSC slots available for the Opposition, picking Gladys Wanga and Aisha Jumwa for the slots while Amani National Congress is fronting Vihiga Senator George Khaniri.
Other slots which have fuelled acrimony are three Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) positions and four East African Legislative Assembly (Eala).
This sharing has enraged Wiper whose National Executive Council resolved to demand that NASA affiliate parties surrender a post in PSC. There are also jitters that Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Ford-K’s Moses Wetang’ula may not be keen on the planned swearing-in of Raila set for January 30.
“Ford Kenya and Wiper are looking for excuses to jump ship. I can tell you that Wetang’ula and Kalonzo are wavering on the swearing in plans. Some of the demands for positions in Parliament are part of the excuses they are creating to skip the event,” said an ODM MP, who is also a senior party official.
But ODM chairman John Mbadi, who is also Minority Leader in the National Assembly, termed the claims of a rift among the four leaders as far-fetched.
“It is far-fetched to say some of the principals are working against the planned swearing in of Raila. The principals are united more than before in fighting for electoral justice,” said the Suba South MP.
Mr Mbadi, however, acknowledged contention over sharing of positions within the alliance, which he said would be on today’s meeting’s agenda. “We expect the leaders to discuss the planned swearing-in, People’s Assemblies and whether there is need for dialogue with Jubilee. They will also discuss House leadership positions and how the committees were filled,” said Mbadi.
Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi (ANC) accused Wiper of taking advantage of the law that requires that the seats be shared by parties which have at least five per cent representation in Parliament.
“But there were internal arrangements – balancing act within the coalition, for ANC to take one slot since they missed out in the House leadership positions,” said Osotsi.
He said if Wiper insisted on the PSC slot, then it should relinquish a leadership position in the National Assembly or the Senate.
Another ANC MP accused ODM of working with Jubilee and then turning back and blaming other NASA partners for non-existent ills.
The MP, who vied for one of the committee leadership slots, accused ODM of insincerity and blamed the Raila-led party of going back on the alliance’s agreement.
“It is known that ODM not only uses its majority in Parliament to deny other partners positions, but struck a partnership with Jubilee to vote as a team when it comes to House leadership positions,” said the MP.
Makueni MP Dan Maanzo said National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi had already ruled that Wiper be given the PSC slot taken up by ODM’s Ms Wanga.
“What we are waiting for is submitting a name of the Wiper representative,” he said.
He denied that the party planned to ditch the alliance and back jubilee government.
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