Why ODM 'rebel' MPs fear going to Chungwa House for disciplinary hearings

President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua with some Members of Parliament from Nyanza at State House, Nairobi, on February 10.

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) rebels who have been summoned to appear before the party’s disciplinary committee on July 19, 2023, have expressed fears over the venue and anti-government protests that start on Wednesday.

The eight legislators are expected to appear before the committee at Chungwa House, the party’s head office in Nairobi, to defend themselves over allegations of associating and supporting the policies of a rival political party and contradicting the party’s position.

They also face charges of betraying public trust bestowed on them by party members and promoting the ideology, interests and policies of another political party as well as gross misconduct.

The rebels are Nairobi Woman Rep Esther Passaris, Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda, MPs Paul Abuor (Rongo), Caroli Omondi (Suba South), Mark Nyamita (Uriri), Gideon Ochanda (Bondo), Elisha Odhiambo (Gem) and Felix Oduor aka Jalang’o (Lang’ata).

The Nation has established that the legislators have expressed fears over the meeting venue, citing possible attacks by “party loyalists” who view their association with President William Ruto’s administration as a betrayal of ODM leader Raila Odinga.

On Monday, Mr Abuor said he is ready to honour the summons but will not do so due to the planned protests.

“I was prepared to attend, unfortunately, demonstrations have been called on the same day, making it difficult to attend at the proposed venue,” he said.

The summonses were issued by the party’s disciplinary committee chairman Prof Ben Sihanya.

ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna has laughed off the fears. 

“How can you purport to be a member of ODM and fear visiting the party’s headquarters? Mr Sifuna posed.

Mr Sihanya said his team will meet to deliberate on the possibility of reviewing the dates and venue of the meeting.

“Should there be need for changes after the MPs formally lodge a complaint with us, we shall discuss the matter as a committee and make a communication,” Prof Sihanya said.

But the rebels accuse some of their colleagues of unfairly targeting them.

“My biggest mistake was to support the government,” Mr Odiwuor told the Head of State in Homa Bay on Saturday.

Mr Nyamita said they are under a lot of pressure to stop working with the government. 

“We will go and defend ourselves. But I know that I was on a good mission of seeking help from the government for our people,” Mr Nyamita said.

Mr Omondi said working with the government does not mean he has left his party to join Kenya Kwanza.

“Courage is the best venture. We will fight like gladiators until we win,” he said.

Mr Ojienda said he will use his legal knowledge to defend his colleagues at the disciplinary committee.

“The Constitution grants us the freedom to work with whoever we want,” Senator Ojienda said.

Mr Ochanda said the reason why some legislators from Nyanza are working with the government is to save the region’s economy from collapse.

“We cannot have elections that are disputed from time to time. We have engaged in opposition politics for long and it has proved difficult for Raila Odinga to be president,” he said, as he urged Nyanza residents to support the government if they want to prosper.