Cracks emerge in Azimio over House leadership


Wiper Party Leader Kalonzo Musyoka (left) and Jubilee Party secretary general Jeremiah Kioni during a group photo session after holding a Parliamentary Group meeting with elected leaders under the Azimio coalition at Stoni Athi Resort in Machakos County yesterday.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Disagreement on sharing of House leadership by Azimio la Umoja One coalition affiliate parties yesterday forced its leader Raila Odinga to postpone the unveiling of the names of those proposed to take up the plum slots.

The coalition said last evening that the names will be unveiled on Monday after a day-long retreat at Stoni Athi Resort in Machakos. Saturday Nation has learnt of a standoff on the position of the Senate Minority whip that Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka has insisted should be taken up by a member of its party.

This is against a position taken by some ODM members, who said there was an agreement for the party with majority members to take up Majority leader and whip in the National Assembly, as well as Minority leader and whip in the Senate, with the other partner parties taking up the deputy slots.

There is also a split within ODM on who should take up Majority leader in the National Assembly.

Nominated MP John Mbadi, MPs Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) and Junet Mohamed (Suna East) are all battling for the coveted seat. Earlier yesterday, ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya chaired a separate meeting of ODM members to try broker a deal. “It was agreed in the morning meeting that the three names will be handed to the party leader to make the final decision on who will take up the National Assembly Majority leader,” said an ODM MP.

Part of the agreement reached yesterday is that Kitui Central MP Makali Mulu (Wiper) will take up the deputy Majority leader, with Navakholo MP Emmanuel Wangwe being proposed to take up Majority whip. Deputy whip will be taken up by a member of the Democratic Alliance Party of Kenya (Dap-K).

Minority leader

In the Senate, ODM is set to take up the Minority leader post, with Wiper taking up deputy slot. Homa Bay senator Moses Kajwang’ (ODM) and Jubilee’s Fatuma Dullo are some of the senators who have been lobbying for the Minority leader position.

ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna had earlier been proposed to take up Senate Minority whip, which Wiper has since laid claim on.

“Wiper now wants Senate whip, yet the agreement was that the largest party in the coalition gets leader and whip in both Houses and the other parties take up the deputy slot,” Mr Sifuna told Saturday Nation. “Discussions are ongoing, but I will not accept any deviation from what had been agreed upon. It is just logical that the leader and whip come from ODM because of our numbers.”

The coalition, in a resolution read out to members, said it is banking on its numerical strength in Parliament to win Majority leader and whip positions. It is also banking on its numbers to take up leadership of various committees in the House, a move it says will give it an upper hand in keeping the Executive in check.

Mr Odinga said the coalition already has its work cut out and will now use Parliament and other avenues to push forward its agenda. He said that with the numerical strength that the coalition had in the House, it was now in a better position to challenge the Executive and prevent a return to what he termed “state capture of various institutions”.

Mr Odinga also urged Azimio MPs to remain united, arguing that divisions, especially in Parliament, will place the coalition at a disadvantage and allow the Executive the leeway to run down the government.

“This meeting (retreat) was decided on by the leadership to bring our members together so that they can bond and come out as one unit going to Parliament, and to look after the interest of our movement," Mr Odinga said.

“If you do not bond and become united, you are going to be ruled the entire of this Parliament, yet you have the numbers to be able to be the rulers of this House.”

The Orange party leader said Azimio will not relent in its fight for a more democratised society.

“Our members should walk tall and remember that they are members of Parliament. Eating will start immediately and you have a role to play, and when you play that role, our people will be happy," Mr Odinga said.

Narc-Kenya party leader and former Azimio deputy presidential candidate Martha Karua said the coalition, going by its numbers, was the majority party in the National Assembly, hence deserves the Majority leader and whip positions.

Bonding session

“You carry half the country and it is, therefore, important that you present yourself to take up your roles in Parliament, deliver to your constituents and the entire nation,” she said.

Ms Karua added that the retreat, besides settling on the names of those who will assume leadership positions in Parliament, was a bonding session to unite members. “It is good to get to know one another, bond and familiarise, because the work head demands that you work together as one family of Azimio la Umoja. The work ahead is not easy, you represent the entire country and our members and our leadership," Ms Karua said.

“We find ourselves in this position where we are the majority in Parliament but are not holding government.

“That means we stick together to claim our space and deserve to get the majority leader and majority whip. An army that does not meet to plan can be dispersed by just one rungu.”