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Rebellion hits Wiper over Kalonzo pact with Uhuru

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka (left) with other party officials after a meeting at the outfit’s headquarters in Nairobi on July 10. [Elvis Ogina.Standard]

Wiper party’s resolution to quit the National Super Alliance (NASA) in order to sign a coalition agreement with Jubilee has triggered rebellion within the outfit.

The deal implies that some of key allies of party leader Kalonzo Musyoka would have to lose their plum positions in Parliament.  

Legislators who risk losing their positions include Senate Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, National Assembly Deputy Minority Leader Robert Mbui (Kathiani), Parliamentary Service Commission member Ben Momanyi (Borabu) and Public Accounts Committee vice chair Jessica Mbalu of Kibwezi East.

The lawmakers hold the positions courtesy of the Minority coalition.

Yesterday, Kalonzo convened the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting endorsing their political deal with Jubilee Party, effectively marking the beginning of a formal walk-out from NASA by the former vice president.

“The National Executive Council of the Wiper Democratic Movement held a virtual meeting via Zoom today (yesterday) and resolved that the party moves with speed to enter into a coalition agreement with the ruling party, Jubilee, in line with the emerging political realignments,” said the party in a statement signed by Secretary General Judy Sijeny.

The party said it took the decision to quit the coalition that sponsored ODM leader Raila Odinga and Kalonzo to contests in the last elections “following the realisation that NASA had become totally dysfunctional.”

The top organ resolved that a special National Delegates Conference be convened soon to ratify the resolution and pave way for the signing of the post-election coalition agreement.

But Mutula Jr, who is a member of the NEC, denied knowledge of the resolutions, signaling simmering rebellion against the deal by some of the legislators set to lose their positions.

“I will wait to see what they said. No discussions have been held to the best of my knowledge,” Mutula, who is Wiper’s vice-chairman, told The Standard.

ODM chairman John Mbadi said signing the pact would mean Wiper MPs quit all parliamentary positions they hold by virtue of being in the Minority coalition.

“Certainly, they will not be in NASA after signing a coalition deal with Jubilee. In that case, they would have to surrender the minority positions,” said Mbadi.

He explained that apart from Mutula Jnr and Mbui, who are holding Minority leadership positions in Senate and National Assembly, Ms Mbalu would also have to relinquish her PAC vice chair position.

Leadership of PAC, which is an oversight committee, is a reserve for the Minority coalition.

He further explained that Momanyi would also have to lose his membership in PSC. The minority side has one PSC slot in the Senate and another two in the National Assembly.

Sijeny said the party was prepared to lose the slots, but added that they will engage their coalition partners for “a way forward”.

“We will pull out of NASA once we finalise coalition modalities with Jubilee. We will also inform our coalition partners about our decision. Today’s resolution is that NEC has given the go-ahead for the coalition,” she said.

“We will engage our partners on everything. But we have no problem losing the positions,” added Sijeny.

The latest development appears to have spelt doom for NASA after Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) also signed a cooperation with Jubilee.

Legally, three parties would need to leave the coalition for it to be dissolved, but politically-speaking, the exit of Wiper and CCM – and with Raila’s ODM already working with the ruling party – means NASA is technically dead.

Raila, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula of Ford Kenya are already in a rocky relationship, with the latter two accusing the former prime minister of being behind their woes in their parties.

Wetang’ula is currently fighting to regain control of Ford Kenya after he was ousted from its helm.

ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna said each of the partner parties were free to chart new political paths in pushing for their future political interests.

Long dead

He described the coalition as long dead. “Let them chart their own political path. We don’t begrudge them for the decision they have taken. We can only wish them well. Even us ODM, we will chart a path that takes care of the interest of our members,” said Sifuna.

While signing a cooperation agreement with Jubilee last month, Kalonzo described the opposition coalition – on whose ticket he was a running mate – as a moribund outfit, disclosing how the summit stopped meeting following the 2017 disputed presidential election.

The former vice president had also accused Raila’s party of allegedly bullying partner outfits, citing the recent changes in committees and leadership in the National Assembly.

“All these matters will be discussed in a brotherly manner. We are not an adversarial partner, but we have no doubt about the path we have decided to take.”

Be realistic

He added: “I can tell you for a fact that the NASA summit has never sat since the 2017 elections. If the summit cannot sit, we cannot continue holding our members at ransom. We have to be realistic.”

And in a previous interview, Mudavadi said partner parties seeking to enter a post-election agreement will have to formally quit NASA by writing to the political parties’ registrar.

“In the NASA agreement, if there is a member party that wants to form a post-election coalition with another, then that party must quit. The basic principle is that one cannot belong to more than one coalition at the same time and the law is very clear,” he said.

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