Internal rebellion stalks Cord as anti-Saba Saba sentiment grows

 Cord leader Raila Odinga (centre) addresses supporters at the 64 stadium in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County on Friday last week. With him is co-principal Moses Wetang’ula second (right) and Siaya Senator James Orengo

Cord leader Raila Odinga (centre) addresses supporters at the 64 stadium in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County on Friday last week. With him is co-principal Moses Wetang’ula second (right) and Siaya Senator James Orengo

Despite attracting huge rallies in Eldoret and Narok over the weekend, Cord leadership is increasingly concerned that the number of members among its rank growing cold feet ahead of Saba Saba Day is growing.

Sunday Nation has learnt that some Cord leaders are now questioning what exactly its leadership seeks to achieve with the rallies. Among them is Mbooni MP Kisoi Munyao, initially excited about the rally, who has now taken a back seat.

And the decision by minority chief whip Gideon Mung’aro to lead a host of Coast politicians to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta at the State House in the wake of terror attacks in Mpeketoni was among the first things that sent jitters among Cord leaders.

Mr Mung’aro was not immediately available for comment when the Sunday Nation tried to reach him on Saturday.

Minority leader Francis Nyenze said that those against rallies fear the events might easily get out of hand.

“Some of our members are concerned that the rallies are heightening political temperatures too much for their comfort. They thus feel there is need to cool things down. I must, however, hasten to add that this is a very small fraction,” he said.

Cord embarked on rallies immediately its leader Raila Odinga returned from the US last month in what they say is meant to force the government to hold dialogue to “discuss issues of national importance.”

Cord lists security, high cost of living and the disbandment of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission as some of the items that need to be discussed should the government agree to talks.

Maasai leaders were among the first to openly voice their opposition to the rallies, with Kajiado Central MP Joseph Nkaissery saying they had put the country into election mode.

And when Cord took a decision to withdraw a censure motion against Interior and Coordination cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku filed by Kisumu Central MP Ken Obura this week, they were alive to this fact.

Sunday Nation learnt that the fear that the censure would injure Cord’s slim foothold in Maasailand was the overriding reason behind the decision to withdraw, a meeting held in Mr Odinga’s home in Karen on Tuesday. The following day, Mr Nyenze was tasked to write to the Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi to inform him of the development.

Mr Nkaissery’s camp are said to have given an ultimatum to the Cord leadership stating they would withdraw their support for the coalition if it proceeded with the motion.

“After wide consultations, we decided to withdraw the motion. We think Lenku is just but a small functionary in a rotten system,” Cord co-principal Moses Wetang’ula said.

Mr Lenku who comes from the same community as Mr Nkaissery, has been accused of incompetence by the opposition in running the ministry.

Although the sponsor of the motion insists he will proceed with it, the party has taken a position and MPs who spoke to Sunday Nation said the fate of the motion is sealed.

“That is a gone conclusion, it is dead and buried,” Suna East MP Junet Mohammed said.

Another wave of rebellion toward the rallies is simmering in Ukambani where a section of leaders like Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua have said they are not keen on the rallies.

Those dissenting say the rallies are a complete waste of time that they would not be part of.

Wiper chairman David Musila and Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua said on Thursday that they would boycott the rallies because they were divisive.

Instead, they pledged to support the Jubilee government to develop their region, and would not be party to destabilising the government.

“We are ready to work with the government. The President must be told we want real infrastructural development in this region. That is the point of our cooperation,” Mr Musila said.

The MPs drawn, from the three counties in Ukambani, said Kenyans were not in an election mood and they should unite to confront the challenges facing them, adding that the 2017 General elections would be used to do judge the Uhuru Kenyatta-led government on its delivery of promises it made in the last elections.

Machakos Town MP Dr Victor Munyaka said Kenyans shouldn’t be asked to attend political rallies and, instead, Cord should offer tangible solution to problems.

Other MPs who have joined the anti-rallies chorus were Vincent Musyoka (Mwala), Itwiku Mbai (Masinga), Regina Ndambuki (Kilome), Kyengu Maweu (Kangundo) Dr Susan Musyoka (Machakos County), Rose Museo (Makueni County) and former Kibwezi MP Kalembe Ndile.

The MPs’ strong opposition to the rallies that would climax on this year’s Saba Saba day was also echoed by ODM MPs who attended the commissioning of the 33-kilometre Kithimani-Makutano-Mwala road by Dr Mutua.

The MPs who included Cord Chief whip Gideon Mung’aro (Kilifi North), Zainabu Chidzuga (Kwale County) and Aisha Karisa (Kilifi County) said they were looking forward for a Coast-Lower Eastern political pact ahead of the next election.

The road commissioning turned into a platform to drum support for the government with National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale leading Senators Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu) in calling for a fresh alliance with Mr Musyoka.

“Mr Musyoka is very welcome to work with us. Joining Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto would make a great team,” said Mr Duale.

Mr Wamatangi reminded local residents that they were “in-laws” to Central Kenya residents and would be readily accommodated in the Jubilee government.

“We have a rich history. The Jubilee vehicle that is now moving still needs a wiper so that it can move faster in the face of the storm,” said Mr Wamatangi.

Those comments forced Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka to declare on landing from China on Friday that he was still ‘Corded’.

And discreetly reading the riot act, Mr Musyoka said: “Some of them rode on my name during the last General Election to win their seats and now they pretend to speak on behalf of the community or the party. Voters are watching them and they may climb down the political ladder soon.”

Because of the new development, Mr Odinga and Mr Wetang’ula are said have asked Mr Musyoka and Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama to reign on the growing voices of dissent in their backyard.

According to one ODM MP close to the goings-on within the party, Cord is concerned by the latest overtures by Jubilee’s Kipchumba Murkomen and Kithure Kindiki to Mr Musyoka to join government, which the comments by Mr Musyoka thus helped diffuse.

When they were hosted by Governor Mutua in Machakos early in last week at the launch of a newly tarmacked road, the Senators said Mr Musyoka that the combative brand of politics displayed by Cord did not conform to his school of thought and he should therefore consider joining Jubilee.

Mr Munga’ro’s presence at the event has further reinforced the belief among some ODM leaders that he is leading a rebellion against Cord from holding rallies at the Coast.

Mr Musyoka’s return has also helped quell speculations within Cord that his tour of China was just an excuse to skip the many functions lined up by Cord even after talking tough on May 31 on the need for the government to “come down from the ivory tower” and talk to the opposition.

But Siaya Senator James Orengo, a close ally of Mr Odinga, said most of the dissenting coalition members are newcomers in politics.

“We are in a state that not many of them are used to. A lot of them are new and thus not used to playing hard ball, the tough politics,” he said.

He said piling pressure was the only way to put people in government to account.

“We did this and forced President Moi to repeal Section 2A of the Constitution that finally ushered in pluralism. So many people were not keen even then, and it took just a few of us to have the job done.”

Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar said the argument by some in Cord that they need to work closely with the government for the sake of development was spurious.

“I know of many of them flirting with Jubilee in the name of development projects but these are all innuendo.”




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