PRESIDENT Uhuru Kenyatta is contemplating the appointment of former Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa as TNA chairman to replace Johnson Sakaja who has been nominated to the National Assembly.
Eugene backed Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani coalition in the election but is considered a useful asset for the TNA in Western Kenya.
“Since Eugene could not be accommodated in the Cabinet, making him the TNA chairman would keep him close for future political reasons,” said an adviser involved in the discussions.
However, some TNA member argue that the plan would be a political blunder. For Eugene to become TNA chairman, he would have to quit his New Ford Kenya party. This would dislodge whatever support he can draw from the Luhyia vote.
If the TNA wants to boost its support in the region, the appointment of Eugene might backfire if he joins TNA.
However, Sakaja has said he has no intention of quitting as TNA chairman until he loses in party elections which are still a long way off.
The constitution bars state officers from holding office in political parties but Sakaja argues that an MP is not an appointed state officer.
TNA party officials are unhappy about his decision including party secretary general Onyango Oloo who is also unhappy with the way that the nominations were conducted.
The Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution supports Sakajja’s position. The CIC says that the president, the deputy president, senators, MPs, governors and county representatives are not barred by Section 12 of the Political Parties Act from holding political party offices as well as public office.
Yesterday, Wamalwa said he was not aware of any plan to have him succeed Sakaja and said he did not intend to quit as the New Ford Kenya party leader.
“Of course we are in a coalition with TNA under the Jubilee banner. We signed an agreement in that regard but I am not aware of what you are talking about. Maybe they intend to approach me but so far nobody has broached the subject,” he said.
Wamalwa described Sakaja as his “friend” and said any political realignment would have to be done in a structured dialogue.
Sakaja also denied suggestions that Eugene might replace him although he conceded that there was friction about him holding the TNA chairmanship and being a nominated MP.
“I think what is happening is normal politics. To be unhappy with a party official is normal. The good thing is that we have procedures and those dissatisfied can always use those procedures to obtain satisfaction,” he said.
Two weeks ago, the TNA national oversight board gave Sakaja 21 days notice to voluntarily relinquish his post as chairman. The ultimatum expires on June 9 when Sakaja is expected to choose whether to continue as a nominated MP or as TNA party chairman.
Other elected leaders in a similar situation include Wiper Democratic Movement chairman, Senator David Musila, the ODM secretary general, Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o and Alliance Party of Kenya party leader, Senator Kiraitu Murungi.-the-star.co.ke