At this rate, Raila's ODM will expel everyone

Former premier Raila Odinga. [Emmanuel Wanson, Standard]

Last week’s decision by former premier Raila Odinga’s ODM to expel a lawmaker over alleged disloyalty echoes a troubling trend.

Uriri MP Mark Nyamita was invited to explain his alleged role in a violent clash between his supporters and those of Migori Governor Ochillo Ayacko but failed to show up. 

Also summoned were Antony Kibagendi of Kitutu-Chache South and Bomachoge-Borabu’s Obadiah Barongo over a fight between ODM and UDA leaders at a church fundraiser in Kisii.  According to ODM’s Central Committee led by Raila and Secretary General Edwin Sifuna, Mr Nyamita’s failure to attend the May 8 disciplinary meeting at Chungwa House was inexcusable.

“He was invited to today’s meeting but failed to attend. At this stage, ODM wishes to dissociate itself from Nyamita fully,” the Orange party said in a statement read by Mr Sifuna. 

Nyamita insists he was absent with an apology. His purported removal from ODM revives debate on why it’s been hard to envision revitalising the Orange party beyond partisanship. Once a behemoth like the Brontosaurus, ODM seems to be struggling. Bad decisions have been its thing. 

Raila now alleges a state-sanctioned plan to weaken his troops. But why ostracise members whom the party badly needs to thrive? Nyamita’s expulsion without a fair hearing or right of reply is pure malice. He is being crucified because of his links with UDA. 

MP Felix Jalang’o of Lang’ata, Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda, Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo, Suba South’s Caroli Omondi, and Gideon Ochanda of Bondo, were similarly ousted unheard last year. The list is growing. Soon, the party will be an empty house ready to be vanquished in 2027.

The Uriri and Kisii clashes is just another scapegoat. Wily disciplinary attempts, like what we saw when ODM threatened 28 MPs over the Finance Bill vote, have killed the party’s vivacity. 

Instead of the ping-pong, ODM must avoid past mistakes that denied it numbers in 2013, 2017 and 2022. Many Raila allies have fled, including the 2007 Pentagon. 

Botched primaries and arbitrary expulsions indicate leadership failure and a suppression of views.

It’s sad how nomination fraud has ushered in leaders with no ground support. In 2022, ODM strongholds elected independents and kept off voting for Raila.

Blame it on ‘men in black’ and confusion under Sifuna and chairman John Mbadi, the two firebrands often mistaken for party youth wingers. 

Some say poor strategy and deal-cutting are ODM’s Waterloo. This was evident in the vain attempt to lock out Migori’s Okoth Obado in 2017, and a failed party-sponsored impeachment against him. That time, the party was backing Ayacko, an unapologetic Raila sycophant.  

A party that detests rigging in presidential polls but ignores fraud in smaller positions is lost. Nyamita and others must break ranks and say ‘No’ to exploitative habits.

ODM members must also be accorded space to interact with other leaders, including President William Ruto. In political science, democracy is ‘unthinkable’ without parties to organise, campaign, and help citizens make choices. The role of all parties in Kenya should be redefined.

Most of our 160 registered parties serve no public good. They cherish bigotry. They’ve literally killed political careers by dishing out tickets to relatives and the highest bidders. That’s not how great parties work.  It’s time to call out all outfits with no vision except to win elections.

In 2007, PNU was a special-purpose vehicle for Mwai Kibaki. Come 2017, Jubilee was cobbled up for Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election while ODM was born of a referendum. It’s UDA's chance to prove itself.  As Raila seeks the top AU seat and could exit politics altogether, ODM must plan well for 2027. As it were, it will suffer the Whig party’s fate.

Whig’s meteoric rise in the US led by Abraham Lincoln and others, was only comparable to its quick collapse. Something will have to give way.

-The writer is a communications practitioner. Twitter(X): markoloo

By AFP 17 hrs ago
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