Monday, October 13, 2008



October 12 1008

By Athman Amran

The ODM-Kenya top brass plans to kick out some senior party leaders, including ministers, for allegedly mishandling party affairs.

Others will be "demoted" according to the party’s hierarchy, The Standard on Sunday has established.

Issues that have worried party leaders, including Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, include dormancy of some committees and some MPs’ arbitrary "declarations without consulting the National Executive Committee (NEC)".

ODM-Kenya co-ordinating committee chairman and former Bahari MP Joe Khamisi has been fronted to take over as party chairman on November 29 national elections.

Current chairman Information Minister Samuel Poghisio’s ambition to vie for the presidency on the party’s ticket might be undermined if he loses.

Khamisi said he would contest the chairmanship, adding he had blessings of some top party officials.

The handling of party affairs by Poghisio and secretary-general Mutula Kilonzo has increasingly been questioned.


An unsuccessful parliamentary aspirant in last year’s elections Dennis Abincha is eyeing Mutula’s party post.

Another party leader in a spot is PNU chief whip and Kangundo MP Johnstone Muthama. Muthama has of late been advocating for a merger of ODM-Kenya and PNU.

Khamisi argues Mutula and Poghisio have been too busy in their ministerial duties to effectively tackle burning party issues. This has often put Kalonzo in a spot whenever things go wrong.

However, Mutula and Muthama insist Khamisi was entitled to his opinion, adding it does not mean there was conflict in the party.

"As a party member he is welcome to vie for the chairman’s post. I do not have any problem with Khamisi," Mutula says.

He, however, disagrees with Khamisi that party officials cannot combine their work with Government chores.

"I am party secretary-general, an MP, a mediator and a Cabinet minister. I have learnt to wear different hats," he argues.

Mutula, also the Minister for Nairobi Metropolitan Development, says a party can appoint an official to the Cabinet. He also insists that ODM-Kenya was "the best run political party".

And Muthama says his involvement in PNU and Kanu affairs is based on his full representation of ODM-Kenya.

"Khamisi seems to be not well informed. It is just a matter of the party getting together to straighten out things," he says.


He, however, says Khamisi’s views are a sign of democracy within the party. He also says Poghisio was exercising his constitutional right by expressing his wish to vie for the presidency.

"The party allows that. He does not have to seek permission from anybody," he says.

Muthama has been pushing for strengthening of PNU ahead of the 2012 General Election. But Mutula, organising-secretary Lucas Maitha and Poghisio insist the party would not be dissolved.

Mutula says the plan is make the party a strong partner of PNU.

The divergent views and internal rebellion, Khamisi says, should be blamed on the party executives. He blames them doing nothing to bring about harmony and unity of purpose.

"Kalonzo has to sometimes personally intervene to appease party officials like Labour Party of Kenya’s Dr Julia Ojiambo and youth leader and summit member Anthony Kibagendi," he says.

Some party leaders are also worried by Poghisio’s intentions to run for president in 2012. They wonder why he did so before Kalonzo.

But the Kacheliba MP had presidential ambitions since 2001 when reportedly declared his interest for the top seat at Makutano Stadium in West Pokot. This is the same venue he declared his ambition this year.

In early September, he was crowned the leader of the Pokot, replacing former Cabinet Minister the late Francis Lotodo.

He told journalists at the time: "I am not being tribal, other communities who participated in the fight for independence should also be given an opportunity to govern."

He reportedly argued then, it was time marginalised communities went for the presidency.

Poghisio also argued it was within his democratic right to contest any political seat.

Misleading reports

But he later dismissed the reports as misleading, since he was a team player in the then Kanu and National Development Party merger.

He said there were procedures and he "would thus not just wake up and announce his candidacy.

But this time round, Poghisio has not denied his ambitions for the presidency.

Consequently, Khamisi insists all is not well within the party. "Unfortunately it is Kalonzo who has been shouldering all the blame instead of the party executive," he says.

He also claims Poghisio and Mutula have been inaccessible.

"If we want Kalonzo to be the party flag bearer in 2012, there has to be a change of leadership in the party. Party structures have to be revived and strengthened," Khamisi says.