Kenya's opposition was Thursday evening staring at a political crisis over its nominees to the East African Legislative Assembly, as the ruling Jubilee Coalition handed a political lifeline to some of its politicians who lost in its nominations earlier in the month.
While the ruling coalition forwarded the names of 15 nominees to the regional Parliament, members of the constituent parties in the Opposition grumbled about the decision to have only four names submitted, instead of at least 12, and an instruction to have specific individuals elected.
The four are Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s son Kennedy Kalonzo, ODM elections board chair Judith Pareno, Mr Ronald Ngeny and Mr Abubakar Zein.
Ford Kenya, later in the evening, presented Ms Carolyn Ochieng Oduor as its nominee, complicating issues further for the Opposition.
Parties are supposed to submit nominees to Parliament, which picks only nine, five from Jubilee and four from Cord for the regional legislative assembly.
Among the politicians Jubilee nominated for the posts are former Interior Principal Secretary Mutea Iringo, former Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua, and Mandera North MP Mohammed Adan Nooru. Others are chairman of the Jubilee Party Nelson Dzuya, former Clerk of the National Assembly Justin Bundi, Embu County Assembly Speaker Justus Mate and current member of the Arusha-based assembly Abubakar Ogle.
Mr Iringo lost his bid to get the Jubilee ticket in Imenti North while Mr Mbugua gave up his quest for Kamukunji in favour of incumbent Yusuf Hassan. Mr Nooru had already submitted his resignation as MP on the mistaken notion that he would need to do so.
But Speaker Justin Muturi clarified that an MP need not resign to take up a seat in Eala, and that the resignation rule only applies to public servants.
In the Opposition coalition, a crisis brewed over the posts. A member from one of the smaller parties told the Nation there was disgruntlement with the choice of the four, whittled down from the 41 who had applied. He said it is likely that some of those who applied for the posts will contest the coalition’s decision in court, which could delay the elections, scheduled for May 25.
At the start of the sitting, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi told the House he had received the 15 names from Jubilee but was yet to get the list of Cord’s nominees.
As he was speaking, Minority Whip Thomas Mwadeghu submitted a list of four nominees at Charter Hall, where the secretariat managing the nomination was receiving the forms.
The inclusion of Mr Kalonzo Musyoka’s son raised eyebrows, but the drama had started way earlier in the morning.
Wiper’s National Elections Council had shortlisted six candidates for interview, but two of them pulled out of the race while one did not turn up, leaving the contest between three candidates.
Mr Musyoka garnered 22 votes out of the possible 26, beating Dr Temi Mutia who got one vote and Mr Zeith Omollo Ouma, who did not get any. Three people abstained.
Those who pulled out of the contest were Mr Kalonzo’s law school classmate and friend Abdi Hakim Aden, Mr Ahmed Mohamed Ibrahim, who is an educationalist, and Mr Zachary Labongo, who did not attend.
Eala is a body of the East African Community (EAC) that legislatively represents the member states of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. It is headquartered in Arusha, Tanzania and populated by nine members from each member country.
Mr Farah Maalim, the deputy party leader who presented the results, noted that there may be a narrative that Mr Kalonzo was favoured because he is kin of the party leader, but he dismissed it, saying Mr Kalonzo deserves the post.
“I’d be failing in my conscience if I denied this young man who has demonstrated to the panel that he is capable just because he is our party leader’s son,” he said. “The fact that he is related to our party leader is just a biological accident,” he added.
But, speaking in Kilgoris, Narok County, Deputy President William Ruto dismissed Wiper’s explanation, saying the Opposition had demonstrated that it has no moral authority to lecture Jubilee on tribalism or nepotism.
“They have been telling us they do not want tribalism, but they fronted their brothers and sons for the Eala positions,” he said.
He said that Nasa leaders have been talking about uniting Kenyans but it is now evident that they have no capacity or intention to do so.
“They are shameless. One proposes the brother, another the son, and nothing would have stopped them from recommending their wives. Does it mean for you to get a job with them you have to be married to them, or be their brother or son?” asked the DP.
Pay back time
In the House, Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo protested the decision made by his coalition, which he said was undemocratic. In the wake of his loss at the ODM primaries, he turned his guns on Ms Pareno.
“The name is there and it is ring-fenced, so I don’t have an opportunity to vote against her,” he said, adding that as a result of the mishandling of the nominations, “we were paraded as losers”.
“If we have four (slots) in Cord, we expect at least 12 names so that we give people a chance to elect. That is the law. I have said here many times that simple English doesn’t have many meanings. An election is just an election,” he added, and asked the Speaker to send the lists back to the parties.
Cord could also face more trouble from Jubilee, with Majority Leader Aden Duale saying that Mr Kalonzo would be rejected at the elections.
He said he would appear before the joint committee of both Houses that will vet the nominees to raise the issues of conflict of interest on the son of Mr Musyoka, and insisted that Cord was wrong in submitting only four names, ostensibly to occupy the four seats that the Opposition should take.
“The opposition should have nominated at least 12 names as required by the law then we vote in four,” Mr Duale said. “We, as Jubilee, will not allow this and will lobby to ensure those nominated do not make it.”
“Ms Pareno, from what I know, has committed serious crimes against some members here during nominations and it is now time for the same members to exercise their rights through the ballot,” Mr Duale added.