If the petition by Migori Senator Eddy Oketch goes through, the Orange Democratic Movement will start the process of expelling nine of its members who visited State House without authorisation.
Removing someone from a party is hard, especially if that person is an elected representative. ODM could argue that the nine MPs promoted the ideology, interests or policies of President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA). The party would likely not have the evidence to support the claim as none of the MPs have expressed their support for Dr Ruto. Langata MP Phelix ‘Jalang’o’ Odiwuor went the furthest when he said that he agreed to visit State House in the interest of development.
“If today, for example, I was with Baba in a rally and there is no water in Lang’ata, the people of Lang’ata will not care what I said in that rally, they will care about water in Lang’ata. If today there is water in Lang’ata and I didn’t show up at Baba’s rally, my ardent supporters, ODM supporters, will not care that I was not there, but that there was water,” he said the following day on Spice FM.
The MP was subsequently “punished” by being kicked out of a meeting of the Azimio coalition.
Notably, ODM leader Raila Odinga asked elected leaders and representatives from his backyard in Nyanza to welcome and work with President Ruto on his recent visit to the region. For observers, condemning the MPs who went to visit the President in Nairobi has an element of doublespeak.
For President Ruto, an Opposition in disarray and distracted by its own internal issues gives him an advantage. The aggression against the nine who visited him will diminish the power of the Opposition on the floor of the National Assembly and in its committees, where most of the work is done. It has also helped that he reached out to and met Jubilee Party MPs.
Next for him now will be to observe Mr Odinga’s next moves.
The Opposition boss has planned a series of rallies around the country to talk to the people about the ills of the government. Top of Azimio’s agenda is the increased cost of living, which the Kenya Kwanza has struggled to deal with since coming to power.
The rallies in Machakos, Busia, Kisii, and then the coastal region will culminate with Nairobi and then planned countrywide protests over the high cost of living. It is perhaps too early to tell how Mr Odinga hopes to exert pressure on the Kenya Kwanza administration as the rallies have mostly resulted in little beyond press coverage. The administration has so far been in a position to explain its inability to conclusively deal with the high cost of food, fuel and the failure to reduce the cost of electricity as promised.
When the Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury, Prof Njuguna Ndung’u, made the rare admission that the government is struggling to finance key public expenditure, not much attention was paid to that.