Claims of Jubilee moles rock ODM retreat in Naivasha
Kenya: Tempers soared at the Orange Democratic Movement’s leaders’ retreat in Naivasha over accusations that some members gunning for top posts were Jubilee ‘moles’ recruited to wreck the Opposition group from within.
The leader of Coalition for Reforms and Democracy, to which ODM is a leading partner, Raila Odinga reportedly watched as the meeting degenerated into ugly exchanges. The row was triggered off by Homa Bay Senator Otieno Kajwang’s unrelenting claims that leadership posts would not go to individuals whose loyalty was questionable.
Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba, who is contesting for Secretary General’s post, now held by Kisumu Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o, reportedly challenged Kajwang and Mr Eliud Owalo to explain why they were branding him a Jubilee mole. Owalo was Raila’s campaign manager in the last presidential election and today sits in the CORD secretariat. There were claims of a scuffle at the ODM caucus at the Great Rift Valley Lodge after the allegations but The Standard could not get any of the attendants to confirm on record. Namwamba was incensed that the claims were designed to scuttle his bid in the party polls scheduled for February 28.
Apologise to members He challenged Kajwang and Owalo to state why they were spreading propaganda in the media about moles and non-loyal members. “Why is Kajwang questioning peoples’ loyalty to the party and asking those who are dissatisfied with the management of the party to leave?” posed Namwamba. Busia Senator Amos Wako had earlier warned the party would lose if some members brand others spies and accuse them of not being loyal.
“Those who are ‘measuring’ peoples’ loyalty to the party leader Raila Odinga must tell this meeting how they arrived at the conclusion of who are moles and disloyal,” Wako went on. It is understood that Namwamba spoke out strongly against his accusers. It was at this point that Raila stood up and challenged Kajwang to explain what he meant by people not being loyal and asked him to name the moles. “Hon. Kajwang your name has been mentioned. What can you say about this?” Raila asked the senator.
After Kajwang had denied the allegations, Raila told him to withdraw and apologise to members, which he promptly did. The incident occurred during a side meeting of ODM members during the retreat that brought together senators and MPs allied to CORD.
Owalo and Kajwang accused Namwamba of “flip-flopping” between ODM and the United Republic Party where he has been allegedly promised the position of deputy party leader by Deputy President William Ruto. Sinking ship “Namwamba and some of the leaders seeking positions in the party must not be trusted. As it stands today, ODM cannot allow people who are not true loyalists to take key positions,” said Owalo after the meeting. Namwamba left before the meeting ended, saying he was traveling to the Coast to meet ODM delegates in Tana River.
He, however, maintained his stand that he was loyal to the party and that his quest for a senior post in the party was not to destabilise ODM but ensure that it goes to the next General Election stronger. It emerged that CORD is toying with the idea of making some changes in its leadership in the National Assembly. Deputy Chief whip Gideon Mung’aro (Kilifi MP) reportedly came under fire at the meeting with claims he, too, was a Jubilee sympathiser. Mung’aro was absent during the two-day CORD parliamentary group meeting. But Prof Nyong’o downplayed the issue saying his colleague, Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa, represented Mung’aro.
On Sunday, Jubilee Majority Leader Aden Duale told off ODM over claims the ruling coalition was interfering with the Orange party polls. “We would do it if the party was alive. We value our moles. We don’t want them to sink with that ship,” Duale responded. Yesterday, Raila asked those campaigning for the top positions to conduct themselves with dignity and avoid attacking each other. “Those people calling others moles and spies should not be taken seriously. They may be using such strong words as a strategy to win votes,” he said.
The former Prime Minister announced that he would soon convene a meeting of all the 82 candidates to map out how the polls would be conducted. Nyong’o explained Namwamba had not walked out of the meeting but had excused himself. “When you see a member walking out of the meeting in a brisk manner, just understand he has other issues to attend to. It is not walking out,” he told a media conference at the close of the retreat.
Kajwang maintained the party should ‘select’ those most loyal to ODM and the party leader. He further claimed ODM has sometimes rewarded those whose loyalty could not be ascertained.