Divisions emerge in ODM over 2022 politics

Friday, September 18th, 2020 14:00 |
Chungwa House, Orange Party headquarters. Photo/PD/File

The cracks within the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) exploded yesterday, a day after Raila Odinga Jr, the son of Party Leader Raila Odinga,  stirred controversy by accusing the outfit of abandoning its ideals.

While East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) MP Oburu Oginga, the only member of the Odinga family who never shies away from commenting on sensitive party matters, maintained uncharacteristic silence, People Daily established that ODM was facing serious infighting.

From boycotts to nasty exchanges through social media, the party appears to undergoing tumultuous times ahead of the 2022 elections.

The recent tour by Raila to the Coast region laid bare the differences after local MPs boycotted his meetings ostensibly to show their revulsion to the latter’s stand on the controversial revenue sharing to counties.

Though the party’s top leadership appears to downplay the emerging internal wars, the barbs being thrown by Raila Jr and the infighting within the executive pont to the true extent of the wrangles within the Opposition party. 

During last weekend’s tour of the Coast, MPs from Kilifi County an ODM stronghold, gave Raila a wide berth.

When contacted yesterday, Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo appeared to provide clues on the brewing resistance.

“Kindly ask the governor that question.  He has all the answers and please tell him that I have directed you to him,” Madzayo said.

In the party offices, the situation is also boiling with the ODM Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Oduor Ong’wen embroiled in a defamatory case with the former Director of Political Affairs Wafula Buke, whom he sacked last year. 

Buke has also filed a similar suit against the party Director of Finance Joshua Kowino. 

Raila Jr, in some of his tweets aimed at individuals close to his father, claimed the party was currently focusing on petty politics of abusing rivals.

He added that the party has a bigger calling of easing service delivery, protecting Kenya’s democratic space and citizens’ rights.

He took issue with Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, a close ally of his father, for lashing out at Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi instead of protecting his freedom of speech enshrined in the Constitution.

Bigger calling 

Party Chairman John Mbadi appeared to downplay the debate raised by Raila Jr, saying as a party member he was entitled to comment on its affairs.

“Raila Jr is an ODM member and does not hold any position in the party, but he is entitled to his opinion,” Mbadi said. Contacted, Oburu was brief, “on the comments by the young man, no comment.”

Speaking to People Daily yesterday, Buke said he was sacked for speaking out about the ills facing the party. He said nothing will stop him from doing so.

“I was just an honest person who availed factual information when I talked of the issues affecting the party,” said Buke.

The renowned political activist said: “Things should be spoken out even if it means getting sacked.

We saw what happened to John Githongo when he spoke out about the infamous Anglo Leasing scandal, he was shown the door.”

After his sacking, Buke wrote, “Friends and enemies, I was sacked yesterday as Director for Political Affairs and Strategy of ODM.

Mr Edwin Sifuna, Mr Oduor Ong’wen and Ms Judith Pareno, since you can’t pick my calls. I hereby confirm receiving your letter,” he wrote on Facebook.

“I ruffled snakes and have received my feedback. I disagree with you so I will see what to do about that.

I just lost income but the struggle for a better ODM is for us all. The funeral for losing a job continues. No burial arrangements,” he signed off.

In the letter showing intent to sue Buke over his defamatory remarks against the party executives, which was filed on August 26, by Makori & Karimi Advocates, Ong’wen demanded an apology within 72 hours upon receipt of the letter on the remarks made by Buke on his Facebook page.

Buke’s lawyer, Jane Matoke, said she has not been served yet and could not comment on the matter.

She, however, said she had been instructed by her client to write a similar letter to Kawino over defamatory remarks he made against Buke.

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