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Why Raila's ODM party is unshaken by Tangatanga MPs' threats

Saturday August 01 2020
Sifuna

ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna addresses the media at Capitol Hill in Nairobi on April 4, 2018. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JUSTUS OCHIENG'

ODM has told off Coast legislators threatening to cut ties with the party over the revenue sharing stalemate, saying they belong to the Tangatanga faction so their decisions do not affect it.

In a statement Friday, the party said there was no way Tangatanga MPs, allied to Deputy President William Ruto, could sever "non-existent ties with ODM".

On Thursday, some 10 lawmakers from the Coast region, led by Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and Mohammed Ali (Nyali), stated that despite their unwavering political support for Mr Raila Odinga’s party over the years, they have been neglected on important national issues

Addressing the press at Parliament Buildings, they said ODM’s decision to support the revenue sharing formula was a clear demonstration of betrayal by Mr Odinga.

The formula, if adopted, would see Mombasa County lose Sh513 million, Kwale Sh1.213 billion, Kilifi Sh1.192 billion, Tana River Sh458 million and Taita-Taveta Sh388 million.

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But on Friday, ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna noted the absence of a senator in the Tangatanga team and that the majority of its members were not in ODM.

"The first noticeable thing about this group was that there was no single senator in it, meaning that the MPs were purporting to deal with a matter they had no business discussing,” Mr Sifuna said.

"The second, and most obvious, is that a majority of the members who issued the statement are not even members of ODM and the few who are, have had long known leanings to the Tangatanga side of Kenyan politics, making their views very easy to contextualise.”

He said it was public knowledge that the party expelled Ms Jumwa long ago.

"She continues to fraudulently hang onto her seat only courtesy of a court order. She long severed ties with the party whilst still occupying a position of responsibility as a commissioner in the Public Service Commission courtesy of the party. She and her acolytes cannot, therefore, purport to cut links that don't exist," the ODM spokesperson said.

Mr Sifuna further said many factors make Mr Odinga ODM’s leader and the people's president, “popular among the masses in the larger Coast region”.

"They include the firm stand on Coastal land rights, devolution, education, employment rights and mainstreaming of minority issues,” he said.

"Incidentally, it is the party's strong stand on these issues that routinely invites the ire of opponents, led by people who believe that a continually ignorant population is fodder for their land-grabbing tin god, whose affinity for enslavement of the ignorant is now the stuff of legend."

AUTONOMY

Devolution, Mr Sifuna said, has been referred to, in many fora, as "Raila's baby" or "ODM's legacy", a reference he disclosed the party accepts with honour and humility.

"This we do knowing the fight it took to have it woven into the 2010 Constitution. If the Coast Tangatanga MPs cared to read a little history, they would know devolution was born out of the passionate desire of the great Ronald Ngala for Majimboism, a task which both Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and the Rt Hon Raila Odinga pushed to fruition so as to empower marginalised communities at the Coast which explains the latter's popularity at the Coast."

Today, Mr Sifuna said, Coastal counties enjoy semi-autonomy in revenue and expenditure and a greater say in tourist earnings, port use and land rights blueprints.

"It has been a painstaking journey but one that moves in the right direction unhindered. Raila's love for the people of the Coast, and their love right back, is the worst kept secret in this land,” he said, adding that Tangatanga MPs must be reminded that "were it not for Raila and ODM, there wouldn’t even be county revenue to fight over in the first place."

He went on: "It is not in our place to tell the MPs what their role should be but we are constrained to mention that on top of the devolution that Raila delivered, they would be more relevant calling pressers to show their CDF projects, schools, combating teen pregnancies, addressing skewed employment policies in local industries and tourist facilities, and the poverty menace at the Coast."

“NATION FIRST”

The official further pointed out that Mr Odinga's name was not a development blueprint to be pegged on the MPs’ claims and neither did cutting non-existent links with ODM amount to a development project.

"There is work to be done and the party and its leader will do it without getting distracted. As for the CRA formula, the party leader has expressed a public view that he believes helps provide a near-term solution pending the passing of the BBI that allocates even more resources to counties, for long term application,’ he said.

"This view has been informed by other circumstances across the country and the need to balance the needs of all sides and stakes."

Mr Sifuna said Mr Odinga holds the bigger picture as "supreme, and outs the nation first".

“That is what it means to be a father,” he went on to say, adding Mr Odinga and ODM would keep engaging Coast residents directly while seeking to fulfill all promises to them, without any regard to" "political brokers who want to build fiefdoms for onward sale to the bottomless pit of corruption”.

"The record speaks for itself. that ODM is the only party out in the grassroots trying to listen to the voices of the people and doing something to improve their lot. We have seen the mischief and we ask Tangatanga MPs only one thing; you have no links with us, so find something else to cut."

THE FORMULA

On Tuesday, a proposal to have the third basis formula for allocating funds to county governments deferred for two years failed after senators voted against it.

The report of the Finance and Budget Committee, that considered the formula as developed by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA), had recommended that the formula be applied from 2021/22 financial year.

The formula that they wanted delayed will see counties with huge populations gain while those with huge land masses and smaller population lose,

On Monday, Mr Odinga said the country and its people would be better served if "we adopted the recommendation of the CRA for the next five years".

"The recommendation is built on lessons from a comprehensive review of the second basis, a comparative analysis of financing transfer systems from other countries and extensive consultations with national and county governments, public finance experts and the public, in an independent and non-partisan manner,” he noted.

"In order to avoid a similar stand-off next time, the concerns currently arising should be forwarded to the CRA for consideration in its future recommendation," he said.

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