Pulling apart: The trouble within Nasa
Accusations of betrayal over the January 30 ‘swearing-in’ of Raila Odinga and lingering ambitions for a stab at the presidency in 2022 are threatening to break the National Super Alliance, just a year after it was formed.
And a resolve by the Jubilee Party — which has reportedly set itself an internal March 2018 deadline to scuttle the Opposition by either wooing parties out of it or using divide-and-conquer tactics — is worsening an already bad situation by painting Mr Odinga’s party, the Orange Democratic Movement, as the biggest beneficiary in the sharing of parliamentary positions.
Messrs Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper, Musalia Mudavadi of Amani National Congress, and Moses Wetang’ula of Ford-Kenya skipped Mr Odinga’s Uhuru Park ‘oath’ event, kicking off a series of accusations and counter-accusations that now threaten to scuttle the opposition alliance.
Insiders told the Nation that the move by the trio to skip the event, and which Mr Musyoka alluded to on Tuesday, was to keep their chances of getting to State House in 2022 alive.
“I do not want to talk about it, at all, at all. Spare me that,” Mr Wetang’ula told the Nation when asked about the state of the coalition, a rather unusual response for a man who one week earlier was bullish about the unity of the alliance.
On whether he was worried each party was planning for 2022 at the expense of the coalition, Mr Wetang’ula said:
“Where I stand, and where I sit, I do not want to be dragged into such issues.”
Ford-Kenya deputy party leader Boni Khalwale, a co-chair of the Nasa coordinating committee, was more blunt, falling short of declaring that the coalition was dead.
“We (Ford-Kenya) are opening ourselves to fresh negotiations with political parties within Nasa and, where an opportunity presents itself, outside it,” Dr Khalwale, the former Kakamega senator, said.
Without saying they will bolt out of Nasa, Dr Khalwale maintained that Ford-Kenya is now focused on rebranding itself and pushing for electoral and judicial reforms to ensure that the 2022 race is free and fair.
“Now, without saying it, the leaders of the parties are realising that Uhuru and Raila have been sworn in, and that that marks the end of the 2017 electoral cycle,” he said.
“Therefore, I will not be surprised if we see breakages, new alliances, and new parties. It is part and parcel of the operation to yet another general election.”
Mr Odinga’s ODM and Mr Mudavadi’s ANC are planning meetings next week to chart the way forward.
The ODM will hold its National Executive Council forum on Wednesday, and a day later bring heads together within the National Governing Council, the second most powerful organ in the party, to discuss what many in the party say is a growing feeling of betrayal within ANC, Wiper and Ford-Kenya.
Following the co-principals’ no-show at the January 30 ceremony at Uhuru Park in Nairobi, many ODM members have said that Mr Odinga washed his hands off them and should not be asked to support any of them in 2022.
“Nasa is a coalition, and you do not expect people to kill their parties because they are in a coalition,” ODM director of elections Junet Mohamed said.
“Coalitions are only created to galvanise votes and support in an election. After that, everyone has a right to revamp one’s party.”
But Wiper deputy-secretary general Peter Mathuki, who has been pushing the 2022 card in the party, was optimistic.
“There is absolutely no cause for alarm,” he said of the state of the coalition.
“This is just each party putting its house in order so that when we meet as Nasa, we are agreed as the different parties first.”
Wiper held its National Executive meeting last week and declared Mr Musyoka, for the umpteenth time, their choice for president in 2022.
Meanwhile, five ANC MPs on Thursday told of a plot, which they said was backed by members of its own party, to scuttle Mr Mudavadi’s 2022 chances.
“Those two leaders are on the payroll of Jubilee Party’s leadership and their main aim is to dismantle ANC and deny Mudavadi the opportunity to become the president of this country,” Butere MP Tindi Mwale told journalists at the ANC party headquarters in Lavington.
Mr Mwale, MPs Ayub Savula (Lugari), Sakwa Bunyasi (Nambale), Christopher Aseka (Khwisero ), and Vihiga’s Ernest Kivai said the plot involves removing Barrack Muluka as the secretary-general and buying off other leaders.
Next week’s meeting, they said, will discuss measures to punish the officials running the scheme.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is said to have, on Tuesday, ordered Jubilee MPs to vote out ODM members from the Parliamentary Service Commission, and vote in those from Wiper, further escalating the rift between the two parties.
Already, a section of MPs from the three other parties have asked Mr Musyoka’s Wiper to restate its commitment within the coalition.
As Wiper prepared to weather the loyalty storm, its deputy leader Farah Maalim on Wednesday argued that Nasa was on its deathbed, and that the parties must now look for new alliances.
Meanwhile, because it basks in the glory of having a majority of MPs, governors, senators, and members of the county assemblies, ODM feels it is being forced into a marriage where it is giving too much and getting nothing in return.
The other parties feel that ODM has become a bully and is using them for its own selfish interests.
From the sides, Jubilee Party, like a tiger on a hunt, is happily waiting for the moment it pounces for the kill.