Murmurs as Raila-allied MCAs give themselves majority committee slots in Kisumu

Kisumu County Assembly

Kisumu County Assembly building. ODM  has removed ‘rebel’ assembly members from committees.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group.

Members of the Kisumu County Assembly are up in arms after members perceived to be on good terms with ODM leader Raila Odinga were rewarded with more House committee slots.

Others, branded as Kenya Kwanza sympathisers, have been de-whipped and left with a single membership of the House's general committee.

The move is not only seen as discriminatory but also weakens the House's oversight role, as the county representatives on the various committees are said to be friendly to the executive.

Of the 24 committees, Milimani Market Ward representative Seth Kanga sits on nine of them. Mr Kanga is the chief whip of the assembly and one of Mr Odinga's close allies. Kanga is also the ODM chairperson for Kisumu Central.

East Seme MCA Seth Okumu is also a member of nine committees, while his counterparts Jeniffer Obonyo (South West Kisumu Ward) and Mr Patrick Lumumba Owade (South East Nyakach) are in eight each.

Kondele Ward MCA Joachim Oketch belongs to six committees, while his Manyatta B counterpart and Deputy Speaker, Ms Nereah Okombo, is in seven.


On the flip side, at least six MCAs perceived as rebels from within the Orange party have been de-whipped from the committees and left in one committee, whose membership includes all 47 MCAs.

Among the casualties of the "coup" are Mr Vincent Obuya (Central Nyakach), Gard Olima (South West Nyakach), Habil Nyasuna (Masogo Nyangoma), Kelvin Oraro (Kolwa Central), Fredrick Odari (Chemelil Tamu), Pete Oiko (Kabonyo Kanyagwal), Tom Onditi (Ombeyi), Tom Nyaoke (North Nyakach), Ms Millicent Omuya (North Seme), Ms Caroline Opar (nominated) and Regina Kizito also nominated.

The positions held by the "rebel" MCAs have since been allocated to the assembly leadership.

The changes were presented by the leader of the majority in the county Assembly, Kennedy Ooko.

In the report, Mr Ooko backs his move by quoting the standing orders stating that the county assembly party that nominated a member to a select committee may give notice in writing to the Speaker that the member is to be removed from the committee.

It further states that the discharge of a member shall take effect upon receipt by the Speaker of a notice under paragraph (1).

Mr Ooko said the Assembly recently amended its standing orders with the changes, resulting in a drop in membership of committees. This is what has led to the re-alignment of the committees to accommodate the changes.

Smooth operations

“All this is geared towards ensuring efficient and smooth operations of assembly legislation and enhancing productivity,” said Mr Ooko.

But one of the victims, Mr Olima, condemned the directive, saying it is linked to the 2027 Kisumu County governorship politics since they are leaning towards Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda, who has expressed interest in the seat.

“We are being victimized because we voted for a different person during the speaker’s election. They are also punishing us for working with the Kenya Kwanza government yet now even our party leader is cordial with the President. The assembly will not work efficiently when more than 10 of us are removed from various committees,” said Mr Olima.

But Mr Kanga defended the move, saying he was in many committees courtesy of his leadership position in the House. He, however, supported the party’s decision, saying all of them hold positions courtesy of the party and, therefore, loyalty is key.

“We serve in committees or assembly leadership as a privilege of the party. When you defy the party you have to be punished. If they feel aggrieved, they should direct their complaints to the party headquarters but until a communication is made to us in writing, our hands are tied,” said Mr Kanga.

Kisumu Senator Prof Tom Ojienda has termed the move by the assembly as unfortunate and a violation of the constitution.

He pointed out that there are basic principles that guide the conduct of public officers, which dictate that they are of high integrity, transparent and inclusive in their decisions.

“Those who removed the MCAs from committees have violated all these principles by placing their interests ahead of the constitution by favouring some MCAs and discriminating against others,” said Prof Ojienda.

Devolution and oversight

The senator also pointed out that devolution and oversight were bound to suffer, as well as the residents, whom he said would get a raw deal as a result of the assembly’s "selfish" decision.

“Committees cannot be reconstituted in a manner that does a disservice to the people of Kisumu. That is against the principle of good governance and equitable representation. These people are playing politics with the lives of Kisumu people,” said the Senator.

On March 5 last year, the ODM Party de-whipped the same 11 MCAs for allegedly going to bed with the government.

The move came a few days after the delegation paid a visit to the Interior Principal Secretary, Raymond Omollo.

Nominated MCAs, who were part of the team, were later threatened with expulsion from the party and that they would lose their seats, but the court would later thwart such an attempt.

Some "rebels" decided to renew their loyalty to the party.