Ababu game plan confuses friends, foes

Ababu Namwamba

The game plan of firebrand ODM mutineer Ababu Namwamba has confounded both friends and foes, and he has many of each across the political divide.

He says he wants to unite Western and create a “third force” distinct from both Cord and Jubilee to promote the region’s agenda. Some say he’s out to make trouble for ODM by stirring disquiet, and he’s done that. Some say he just wants to remain relevant, in the headlines and poised to seize the nest best opportunity.

Namwamba did not respond yesterday to the Star’s requests for comment.

The MP’s intentions are especially bewildering because nearly half the residents of his Budalang’i constituency are Luo or Luo-speaking, virtually certain to vote for a candidate allied to ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Namwamba, once a staunch ally of Raila’s, announced his resignation as ODM secretary general on July 6, citing frustration and mistreatment. He was joined by other rebels. However, he has not resigned in writing and has not quit the party, into which he paid shares. He does say he plans to exit.

Silverse Anami, among the MPs who joined Namwamba in accusing Raila of stifling party democracy, is back in the fold.

“Namwamba is my friend but I have told him as a friend he is not doing the right thing. He should abandon it,” Anami, the Shinyalu ODM chairman told the Star.

“I want to tell those championing so-called Luhya unity that we are in ODM and Cord to take over the government in 2017 … [not] to be in government. We will continue to fight them and they should leave our party alone,” Anami said.

Former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo, who is not close to Namwamba, met him Wednesday. Journalist and IEBC consultant David Makali was with Namwamba.

Jirongo told the Star there was nothing wrong with meeting Namwamba since he has met other Western leaders.

“Namwamba clarified to me he wants a homegrown solution to offer leadership to our people. He clarified the third force initiative is neither Cord nor Jubilee. It is a case of the community determining its own destiny and that is what we agreed when we met,” Jirongo said.

On Wednesday, Namwamba concluded a 12-day tour in Busia and Bungoma counties to popularise his third political force.

Raila follows next Monday with a four-day tour of Western, partly to counter Namwamba and the rebels. He will address rallies in Vihiga, Busia and Kakamega counties.

But the force, third or otherwise,may not be with Namwamba and all may not be well.

On Sunday, he met Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka in his office and they agreed to continue negotiating to advance a Western unity agenda.

The next day Lusaka

appeared to pull a fast one on Namwamba.

Lusaka, the New Ford Kenya leader, hastily convened the party’s National Executive Committee to ratify a resolution to dissolve and merge with the soon-to-be-launched Jubilee Party. Hardly good news for Namwamba.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto will run on the JP ticket next year, after dissolving their TNA and URP parties.

Later Lusaka and other party leaders were warmly welcomed by Uhuru at State House. They included Water CS Eugene Wamalwa, MPs Boniface Otsiula (Bumula), David Barasa (Saboti) and former MPs Musikari Kombo and Bifwoli Wakoli, among others.

Lusaka told the Star he did not inform Namwamba of the State House meeting, even as they had agreed to unite the region first before presenting their agenda to Jubilee.

“It is true he (Namwamba) was aware we were going to have our NEC and the agenda was very clear. But we are not rushing to undercut anyone! We agreed we meet huko mbele,” Lusaka said.

However, Sirisia MP John Waluke, who also quit as ODM Bungoma chair, blamed Lusaka for betraying the Western unity drive.

“We had a very long and fruitful meeting with the governor on Sunday but the way they rushed things caught us unawares!” Waluke said. “He (Lusaka) let us down because he rushed to State House, which is okay, though we wanted our people from Western to unite first before charting another course.”

Until recently, Namwamba had been Raila’s fierce supporter and swore allegiance to him, not President Uhuru Kenyatta, in 2008.

Earlier this month, he again created a stir when he marshalled eight ODM MPs to accuse Raila of undermining him.

Yesterday Namwamba and Walukhe were to officially exit ODM, but Waluke said that has been pushed to next Thursday since colleagues are out of the country.


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