A cleric who has blamed the Orange Democratic Movement party for poverty in Nyanza region says he does not regret making the comment.
Bishop James Ochiel who heads the Anglican Diocese of Southern Nyanza said the Raila Odinga-led party should be blamed for lack of development in the region.
“I cannot apologise over my statement that Raila Odinga’s party is to blame for poverty affecting people of Nyanza,” said Bishop Ochiel.
Bishop Ochiel said he had statistics to show that the people of Nyanza are not benefitting from devolution.
“Residents of this region have nothing to show for devolution except sycophant leaders,” he said.
According to Bishop Ochiel, the only quality needed to ascend to leadership in the region is loyalty to the party and its leadership.
“Competent leaders have been locked out of elections because it’s alleged they are not loyal to ODM and its leadership,” said Bishop Ochiel.
On Sunday he challenged leadership of the party to prove that it is not to blame for poverty in the region.
“If I am lying, let ODM party prove me wrong because we cannot hide this truth anymore,” said Bishop Ochiel.
He said governors in the region had stopped meaningful development initiatives because they know the electorate will judge them based on their loyalty to ODM and not performance.
“Governors in Nyanza are reluctant to perform their duties because they know it’s loyalty that is important and not their track record,” he said.
ODM national chairman John Mbadi termed Bishop Ochiel’s assertions as unfortunate, saying the cleric was wrong to attack the party.
“We respect Bishop Ochiel as a man of God, but he missed the point in blaming our party for problems affecting our people,” said Mr Mbadi.
Mr Mbadi said the country is democratic and at no given time has the party forced residents of the region to only vote for its members.
“Bishop Ochiel should know that we have not coerced residents of Nyanza to vote for their leaders on the party’s ticket. They do so because they believe in ideals of the party,” said Mr Mbadi.
He added that political parties are not responsible for development as that is the role of an elected government.
“Do political parties have funds for development?” asked Mr Mbadi.
ODM director of political affairs and Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi criticised the cleric, challenging him to form an alternative party to rival ODM in the region.
“The bishop is free to form his own political party to rival ODM if he believes we are to blame for problems affecting our people,” said Mr Wandayi.