More Drama:ODM de-whips four rebel MPs
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has succeeded in removing four of its MPs considered to be rebellious from committees in the National Assembly in yet another move aimed at enforce discipline within the party.
Speaker Justin Muturi informed the National Assembly on Wednesday afternoon of the decision communicated to him by Cord Chief Whip Thomas Mwadeghu in a letter sent to him last week.
The MPs are Ken Obura (Kisumu Central), Samuel Arama (Nakuru Town West), Dalmas Otieno (Rongo) and Zainab Chidzuga (Kwale County Woman Representative).
Mr Obura was a member of the Defence and Foreign Relations and the Labour and Social Welfare committees while Mr Arama was in the Public Accounts and the Constitutional Implementation Oversight committee (CIOC).
Mr Otieno was a member of the Administration and National Security and the CIOC while Ms Chidzuga was in the Environment and Natural Resources and the Delegated Legislation committees.
ODM WITHIN STANDING ORDERS
Mr Muturi said that according to the standing orders, ODM was within its rights in writing to him to have the MPs removed from the committees and that the removal took effect the moment the Speaker received the letters.
“Therefore, in accordance with the provisions of the said Standing Order, the four members have been discharged from today, and have ceased being members of the respective committees,” said Mr Muturi.
The vacant slots should now be filled within the next 14 days, according to the standing orders.
The move was immediately praised by ODM stalwarts Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) and John Mbadi (Suba) even as Mr Arama cried foul while Jubilee MPs accused Cord of dictatorship.
Earlier in the year, Cord removed Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro as Chief Whip because of his alleged allegiance to the Jubilee coalition.
Just last week, ODM party leader Raila Odinga told rebels to either toe the party line or quit.
Mr Obura and Mr Arama have stated their intention to work with the Jubilee government while Mr Otieno has declared his intention to vie for the presidency and to form a political party.
It was not clear why Ms Chidzuga was de-whipped but she has been part of a rebel faction from the Coast.
The standing order that allows the party to remove its MPs from a committee was introduced at the end of the last Parliament’s term.
Mr Muturi told the House the idea was informed by the practice in countries with similar political organisation such as Canada, Germany, South Africa and the National Assembly of Ghana.
“This practice, which is sparingly invoked, even in such democracies where political party allegiance is more advanced, is intended to assist parties instil control and whip their members as opposed to punishing them.
“In such jurisdictions, the practice is applied only as a last option so that it is not construed as a means of chastising members,” said Mr Muturi.
He said he expects parties to apply the rule with utmost restraint.
NOT INFORMED OF DECISION
Mr Arama, a vocal critic of his party who has stated his intention to work with Jubilee, immediately complained that ODM had not informed him of the decision and neither had they given him a chance to defend himself.
“This is the saddest day for ODM and I am not going to take it lying down,” said Mr Arama.
“I only said that the President of this republic is the President of everybody. I said that I support him and that is what I am doing.
“This party (ODM) does not belong to Luos. I don’t come from Nyanza myself; they must know that I come from Nakuru County,” said Mr Arama.
This sparked a furious reaction from Mr Wandayi and Mr Mbadi, who praised the party’s decision, with Mr Mbadi pointing out that Mr Obura and Mr Otieno are actually from Nyanza.
“I actually advice my friend, Hon Arama, informally, that he should take care. When he is dealing with the party he should know he came here on an ODM ticket and so long as he is still on an ODM ticket, he should be careful. He has been very liberal with his speech.
“In this country, we have been mistaking bad manners for democracy. This democracy we want to practice has never been practiced anywhere.
“Even in America, we cannot have a member of the Republican Party talking ill of the Republican Party every hour and he still wants to enjoy the benefits of the party,” said Mr Mbadi.
He asked Mr Arama to resign and seek re-election on another party’s ticket if he is tired of ODM.
Deputy Minority Leader MP Jakoyo Midiwo criticised ODM-nominated MP Isaac Mwaura, who was expelled from the House on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning for unruly behaviour, and said he was an example of bad behaviour in Parliament.
He accused Jubilee of being hypocritical when criticising the decision by ODM.
“Sometimes I wonder why when ODM says it wants to sort out issues of discipline within ODM then it is a headline story.
But when URP deals with MCAs in Nandi County, it is a small strip in the newspaper. How many opponents do we have? Is it the media plus Jubilee?” he asked.