ODM yesterday moved to consolidate its influence in the Senate by removing Cleophas Malala of Amani National Congress (ANC) from the position of Deputy Minority Leader.
In a move that has kicked off a major storm, especially among Nasa coalition partners, the Kakamega Senator was replaced by Kilifi’s Stewart Madzayo. This came as leaders from the Coast region are reportedly planning to unveil a new political party next week.
Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi is set to become the leader of the new party. Some Coast leaders accuse ODM leader Raila Odinga of unfairness in sharing leadership positions in Parliament, which they said is populated by MPs from his Nyanza backyard. They say this is what has informed their decision to form their own party ahead of 2022.
And a petition later by Nasa partner parties - Ford Kenya, ANC and Wiper - to Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka prevailing on him not to effect the changes failed after he dismissed the entreat saying he did not wish to be drawn into internal affairs of parties.
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“My office is ill equipped and cannot diverge into the internal affairs of parties. The role of the Speaker is to act when he receives correspondence of the decision and minutes of the minority side and ensure they have met the threshold. I am satisfied the changes are in line with the Standing Orders,” Lusaka said through Nominated Senator Rose Nyamunga, who is a member of the Speaker’s Panel.
He added: “I hereby inform the Senate that Senator Malala stands removed and Senator Madzayo stands elected as Deputy Minority Leader.”
Malala was kicked out following a resolution by 20 ODM senators. They signed a petition to fire the ANC man and ratified the decision during a Senate Parliamentary Group yesterday.
Among other things, Malala was accused of disrespecting Nasa co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper and ODM deputy party leader, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.
Choice of Madzayo as Malala’s replacement is being interpreted as a strategy by Raila to appease the Coast region, especially Kilifi County, whose entire leadership was elected on ODM party tickets.
Malala was once an ally of Raila before severing ties after reconciling with his party leader Musalia Mudavadi of ANC.
Siaya Senator James Orengo who announced Malala’s ouster did not give details of the PG meeting only saying: “We met to discuss issues around leadership in the Nasa coalition. We regularly meet as a coalition and constituent parties whenever necessary.”
Malala’s removal has put ODM at loggerheads with its Nasa partners even as Raila’s party appears keen to address unease at the Coast region which has traditionally supported him, but appears to be slipping away with plans for a regional political party championed by Kingi.
In Mombasa for instance, ODM is badly divided after some officials opened a parallel office. The split in ODM’s Mombasa office is also anchored on replacement of the party’s county chairman Mohammed Hatimy who died last year. While one faction wants Hatimy’s replacement picked by consensus, the other one is pushing for elections.
Raila has been facing rebellion at the Coast. This started with a standoff on the third generation formula of sharing revenue among counties that could have seen Coastal counties loses billions.
Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and her Kilifi North counterpart Owen Baya were elected on ODM ticket but are now supporting Deputy President William Ruto’s bid for presidency. Appointment of Madzayo may complicate Kingi’s matrix in his push for a new party as the Kilifi senator may remain loyal to ODM.
But if Kingi and his team succeed, then the new outfit may eat into ODM’s popularity in the region.
But as this was happening, the Western region, where Raila also enjoys massive following, was up in arms over Malala’s marching orders.
“I condemn the removal of Malala as Senate Deputy Minority leader. It is selfish, unhelpful, unlawful, vindictive, intolerant, vengeful and against the Nasa coalition agreement. It has a direct link to the outcome of the Matungu by-election,” said Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, who is also Ford Kenya leader.
Malala’s ouster came after a bitter fallout between ODM and other Nasa partner parties.
Yesterday, Kalonzo, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula wrote to Speaker Kenneth Lusaka asking him not to effect the change to the leadership of the house they termed illegal but it was rejected.
“An appeal is hereby made for the Speaker’s intervention not to confirm and suspend the unprocedural and unilateral removal of Malala by ODM senators and changes made in the committees by the same ODM party without consultations with its Nasa partner parties,” reads the letter copied to Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu.
ANC chairman Kelvin Lunani, Wiper Secretary General Peter Mathuki and Ford Kenya National Organising Secretary Chris Mandu signed the letter. They maintained that the pre-election deal deposited at the registrar’s office is active and does not allow one party to make such a decision without consulting others.
“NASA coalition has an existing pre-election coalition agreement given that no signatory party to the agreement has officially and/or legally left the coalition,” the letter read.
“This means the action by an individual partner should be in cognizant of and in conformity with the coalition agreement so as not to injure other NASA partners.”
Malala becomes the second ANC senator to be kicked out of the House leadership by ODM after Nominated Senator Petronilla Were suffered the same fate and was replaced by Nominated Senator Beatrice Kwamboka as the Deputy Minority Whip.
As the life of the 12th Parliament started, Wetang’ula was also removed and replaced by his then deputy, Orengo. The Ford-K leader tried to fight the move but the Lusaka would go ahead and effect the change as per the correspondence by Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, the Makueni senator.
ODM senators then argued that Wetang’ula, who was the only Ford-K member in the House, lacked the exclusive right to lead them, leading to the famous quote; “You cannot be a chair of a cattle dip when you only have one cow.”
Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa (Ford Kenya), who ODM kicked out as Deputy Minority Leader and replaced him by Tongaren’s Esseli Simiyu, faulted Malala’s removal saying; “We condemn the intended wrongful removal of Malala as the Senate Deputy Minority Leader. Malala got that position as a result of the Nasa coalition agreement of sharing leadership positions which was deposited with the Registrar of political parties.”
ODM chairman John Mbadi urged Nasa affiliate parties to accept the coalition doesn’t exist anymore.
“Technically, Nasa is dead, it doesn’t exist. Malala has been working at variance with ODM. In the Matungu by-election, he was violent and hostile to the ODM party. You can't enjoy benefits of a party you fight,” said Mbadi.
He added: “He opposed the third generation formula for sharing revenue among counties that was to ensure equity. He has not been serving the interests of the party.”