Why CORD meeting in Parliament over Ababu Namwamba collapsed
Kenya: Opposition leaders yesterday cancelled a Parliamentary Group meeting that would have discussed allegations of corruption against ODM Secretary General Ababu Namwamba who chairs the National Assembly’s powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Sources intimated to The Standard that while the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) leaders feel Namwamba is being targeted because of his political affiliation, they felt the PG was the wrong forum to tackle the matter.
The leaders therefore cancelled the meeting at the eleventh hour and disowned its agenda, which also included the matter of members of county assemblies perceived to be working with the Government.
Namwamba, who is also the Budalang’i MP, is fighting accusations by some PAC members that he was compromised to influence the outcome of high-profile investigations, including a probe into alleged irregular procurement of electoral equipment and secret accounts operated by the Office of the President.
On Monday evening, the embattled PAC chair sent a text message to his colleagues that read: “Best regard Mhesh. Walking the right side of history is a journey full of peril. I am faced by a classic case of the vampire of corruption fighting back viciously. Please come to our coalition PG tomorrow 9am to help me confront impunity.”
But yesterday, it emerged that Minority Whip Thomas Mwadegu, whose duty it is to rally members to such meetings, had not sanctioned the invites. Instead, Mwadeghu sent another text to MPs saying the message did not come from his office and so the meeting would not proceed.
Other coalition leaders including co-principal and Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula, Senate Minority Whip Johnstone Muthama, National Assembly Minority Leader Francis Nyenze and their respective deputies were not consulted.
Apart from “the war being waged against the party official in PAC”, the other agenda for the meeting was reportedly the issue that nominated MCAs “are not loyal to the coalition”.
Yesterday, it emerged that Namwamba had consulted party leader Raila Odinga over a need for a meeting and although he sanctioned it, some leaders were uncomfortable with the intention of using a PG to meeting to discuss the matter. They said it wold have been better to convene a meeting with members who sit in the watchdog committee to “establish the truth” about allegations of corruption against Namwamba.
Consequently last evening, the top CORD brass met with their members of PAC, but it was not clear what they had resolved.
Among those who are leading the onslaught on Namwamba are ironically, ODM MPs Anyanga Omondi (Nyatike) and Ibrahim Abbas (Ijara).
Yesterday, Nyenze, his deputy Jakoyo Midiwo and MPs Abdikadir Aden and Richard Onyonka said the meeting could not take off as it was not proper to discuss ‘committee wars’ in a PG.
“We decided that this matter can be handled at the committee itself, but as for our members, we are meeting them to make a decision,” Nyenze said.
“Today’s meeting was unprocedurally called. The party has no mandate to discuss PAC in its PG as this is against the Standing Orders of the National Assembly. The ODM MPs who signed the petition to remove Namwamba will be talked to,” he added.
According to Onyonka, there is need to address various issues that appear to divide the party, but holding a PG to discuss squabbles in a committee will not augur well with the principles that CORD stands for. “These allegations may turn out to be false. There are mechanisms within the leadership of the House where such claims can be counter-checked before a decision is made,” he added.
However, both Nyenze and Midiwo indicated that CORD would not allow the name of Namwamba to be tarnished.
“Corruption always fights back and where the watchdog committee investigates big names and mega scams, corruption may sometimes fight back in a big way,” Nyenze said.
Namwamba attributed his woes to critical reports that have been under investigation by the watchdog committee whose findings could have more reaching implications.
Over the weekend, Namwamba said the indictment of the two directors of the Smith and Ouzman printing firm in the United Kingdom and the investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission of the involvement of officials of the defunct Interim Independent Electoral Commission could have triggered recent development.
According to Namwamba, no member of the committee is willing to go on record that he has either taken a bribe or altered a report because of any inducement.
The Budalang’i MP exonerated himself and dared his accusers to provide evidence to investigating agencies over the bribery claims.
“If you look at the whole issue, no member is willing to go on record. Who are my accusers? Where are they?” posed Namwamba.