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Parties face obstacles in expelling errant members

By Moses Nyamori | April 3rd 2021

Nominated Senators Millicent Omanga (left), Isaac Mwaura (2nd left), Victor Prengei (2nd Right) during a sitting at Parliament. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The push to have six nominated senators expelled has lifted the lid on the long and winding appeal mechanism that members exploit to remain in Parliament.

The ruling Jubilee Party in February expelled nominated senators Isaac Mwaura, Mary Seneta, Falhada Dekow Iman, Naomi Jillo Waqo, Victor Prengei and Millicent Omanga.

But the decision has since led to court battles that have seen every step by the ruling party in having the seats declared vacant countered by stay orders.

ODM fails

Previous attempts by Raila Odinga-led Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and Amani National Congress (ANC) of Musalia Mudavadi to expel members flopped, pointing to a legal framework that makes it almost impossible to kick out someone from a party.

The six senators allied to Deputy President William Ruto quickly proceeded to the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal (PPDT) that put a stay on their removal.

But on Friday, PPDT declined to issue orders barring the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties from striking off Mwaura’s name from Jubilee membership roll.

This allowed registrar Anne Nderitu to remove Mwaura’s name from the membership roll on Monday.

On Tuesday, Mwaura obtained yet another order from the High Court staying the decision of the registrar.

Membership roll

On Thursday, Jubilee party was set to write to the registrar to have the names of the other five senators removed from its membership roll after the political parties’ tribunal ruled against them.

But the circus of challenging the decision is expected.

Nderitu yesterday told The Saturday Standard that there was need to review the legal framework to protect both the political parties and the aggrieved members.

Her remark suggests that the current law appears to protect one party while disadvantaging the other.

“There should be protection of the right of both the member and political party.

“Ensure the party’s right to deal with errand members is protected just like the right of the member to appeal,” said Nderitu.

John Mbadi, ODM chair said there was need to review the law as it was working in favour of the errant members while Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju described the process as long and inconveniencing.

Bureaucratic mechanism

Mbadi said the current legal framework gives a lot of protection to errand members, making it difficult for political parties to instill discipline among its members.

He described the appeal mechanism as bureaucratic and only working to protect errant party members.

“Why do you insist on being in a party when you have already joined another political party? We created too many bureaucratic procedures.

“Most of the members know of the long procedure and, they know for you to exhaust the stages, they will be done with their term,” added the National Assembly minority leader.

Tuju also said the process was inconveniencing but has to be followed to ensure justice for both parties.

He said that the country risks sliding into party dictatorship if the legal procedure in removing a member is repealed.

“The challenge is how do you draw the line on one’s quest for justice or a scheme to exploit the process for one’s protection.

“My hope is that we follow the law that will set a precedence,” said Tuju.

Soy MP Caleb Kositany and ANC nominated MP Geoffrey Osotsi said some of the cases flop because they lack basis.

They said some political parties try to use the expulsion as a way of taming members who express divergent opinions.

Osotsi, who ANC unsuccessfully tried to expel, blamed the registrar for the mess in the political parties.

He claimed that the office of the registrar was not independent and was being used by party leaders to discipline members.

“If the office was strong, we would be having very strong political formations. Most of these parties have managed to run without meeting the statutory requirements.

“If the law is applied the way it should be, we could probably be having ODM as the only political party. These other parties have never conducted any elections but when you have divergent views, you are removed,” he said.

He added that he was expelled for working with ODM, which ANC was in a coalition pact with in the 2017 polls.

Last week, ANC lost an appeal challenging the reinstatement of Osotsi to the party.

Kositany said some political parties were now being managed like private enterprises and it was only the judicial system that can guarantee protection.

He said most of the cases of expulsion were just victimisation and lack any solid basis that can sustain such a decision.

Full term

“There are no basis in these cases. It is about victimisation of the members. I can tell you the senators will serve their term because they have done no wrong,” said Kositany.

In the run-up to 2017 poll, ODM unsuccessfully expelled then governors Ukur Yatani (Marsabit), Salim Mvurya (Kwale), Deputy Governor Joash Maangi (Kisii), MPs Steven Kariuki (Mathare), Mpuru Aburi (Tigania East), Gideon Mung’aro (Kilifi North), Mustafa Iddi (Kilifi South), Cyprian Kubai (Igembe Central) and James Rege (Karachuonyo) for backing Jubilee.

Others that defied ODM were Samuel Arama (Nakuru Town West), John Waluke (Sirisia), nominated MP Mwaura and Kwale County Woman Representative Zainabu Chidzuga.

ODM’s push was complicated by time constraints as it came under a year to the 2017 General Election.

The law also bars the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission from holding any by-election 90 days into General Election.

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