Exactly one week ago at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi, Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga and Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa were pictured falling over themselves in hearty laughter.
The pictures excited the social media crowd, with many bloggers suggesting that the meeting meant Mr Odinga had “forgiven” the vocal Ms Jumwa who, alongside her Msambweni counterpart Suleiman Dori, had been grilled by the party disciplinary committee for “gross misconduct”.
They were wrong, because on Tuesday Mr Odinga chaired a meeting that adopted a report recommending the expulsion of Ms Jumwa, Mr Dori, and seven ward representatives — six from Homa Bay and one from Busia — from the party.
Ms Jumwa and Mr Dori, who were both elected on an ODM ticket in the 2017 elections, have been accused of party disloyalty after they declared their support for Deputy President William Ruto’s 2022 State House bid. They will plead their case before the party National Executive Council next year.
If the decision by the party’s disciplinary committee is upheld by the NEC, they, and the seven ward representatives, will lose their seats.
The MCAs recommended for expulsion from Homa Bay County are Dan Ochieng Were, Evans dada Marieba, Julius Odhiambo Gaya, Geoffrey Onyango Juma, Paul Ongoro Wamunga, and Joshua Okumu Nyabola. From Busia County Assembly is Immaculate Joice Adhiambo.
The recommendations were given to the MCAs following recent acts of violence, unruly behaviour and disobeying party decisions.
“Party discipline is paramount,” said ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna in a statement. “Respect for party leadership, its organs and decisions makes a strong party. The Political Parties Act is clear on the running and management of political parties (and recommends) discipline among members.”
The errant members, Mr Sifuna explained, will be invited before the NEC at “a special meeting to be held early next year”, after which a final decision on their expulsion will be made.
Already, Ms Jumwa is fighting an intention by ODM to remove her from the powerful Parliamentary Service Commission. Minority Whip Junet Mohamed, in a letter to the Speaker of the House, has asked for guidance on how to axe her.
The tide started shifting against Ms Jumwa and Mr Dori after March 9 this year, when Mr Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta shook hands on the steps of Harambee House and signed a deal to work together.
For Ms Jumwa, that meant a political bridge had been opened, and that she was free to associate with President Kenyatta’s deputy, just as her boss, Mr Odinga, had with Mr Ruto’s superior.
That did not augur well with the party leadership, and in July ODM chairman John Mbadi wrote a letter to Ms Jumwa accusing her of uttering words “that are against the party values”, failing to attend a party parliamentary group meeting, and making “pronouncements that are tantamount to declaration of termination of, or intention to, terminate membership of the party”.
Mr Dori was unavailable for comment yesterday, while Ms Jumwa said she was out of the country when the Nation reached out to her. They have in the past maintained that they have the right to associate with Mr Ruto.
“We voted for the Opposition but you decided to reward us,” Ms Jumwa told the DP during one of his frequent visits to Kilifi earlier in the year. “You are our only hope for the 2022 presidency.”
On Tuesday, Kilifi North MP Owen Baya termed the ODM recommendation unfortunate and called for more tolerance from the party. “Expelling members from a party is a democratic principal from yore. The coastal region will speak with one voice on this matter and we shall defend the constitutional rights of our leaders. We are waiting for the NEC meeting that will complete the process and our stand will be pronounced loudly,” said Mr Baya.