The National Super Alliance (Nasa) called off a retreat planned for this weekend to give room for negotiations aimed at bringing Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu’s Narc party on board, Nation has learnt.
The postponement of the retreat, which was tentatively scheduled for Maanzoni resort in Machakos County, was at the request of Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka who is keen to have Ms Ngilu fully participate in Nasa activities.
Specifically, Mr Musyoka requested fellow Nasa principals Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula to give him time to consult and secure Ms Ngilu’s consent to have Narc members incorporated in the People’s Assemblies, the Opposition coalition’s new vehicle for initiating political change in the country.
“The retreat was called off on Kalonzo’s request, a very sincere one for that matter, so that he could consult and seek Ngilu’s consent to have members of her Narc party participate in the People’s Assemblies,” said a member of the Nasa team charged with rolling out the assemblies countrywide.
“Kalonzo is keen to consolidate the entire Ukambani behind Nasa and the People’s Assemblies and it was only proper that Ngilu and her party are fully involved in our activities,” he went on.
Officially, top Nasa leaders cited the involvement of the coalition’s women MPs in the just ended Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (Kewopa) in Naivasha as the reason for the postponement of the retreat.
Minority whip in the National Assembly Junet Mohamed told the Nation that besides the Kewopa retreat, the planned induction retreats for parliamentary committees scheduled for next week had also contributed to the retreat’s postponement.
“The retreat has been postponed, we have a message notifying us (MPs) of the same. The reason why it was postponed is because this week, there is the women parliamentary association, Kewopa, retreat in Naivasha and next week, all the parliamentary committees will be attending induction courses on the management of committees at various places. The courses will start on January 20th or thereabouts and take a whole week,” said the Suna East MP.
Nasa co-principal Musalia Mudavadi said the Opposition coalition would meet to agree on new dates acceptable to all the stakeholders.
“We postponed the retreat. We will meet and reschedule it to a date when everybody is comfortable. The agenda is very broad so we will have to agree on the specific agenda,” he said.
According to Kitui Senator Enock Wambua, the new dates for the retreat were yet to be confirmed.
“I know there are plans for a Nasa retreat although the dates have not been confirmed yet,” he stated.
There had been speculation that the retreat had been called off following grumbling by Mr Musyoka’s Wiper party over the distribution of the leadership of various parliamentary committees.
On Wednesday, the party re-ignited the Nasa disagreements over leadership positions in parliamentary committees after it demanded a reversal to what it said was the originally agreed on line-up.
In a meeting chaired by Mr Musyoka at the party headquarters in Nairobi, Wiper said it was dissatisfied with how it was treated in the sharing of the slots.
“It is not a light matter. Our members have expressed strong sentiments that when Kalonzo was away, the committee positions were not shared as agreed,” Wiper party chairman, Prof Kivutha Kibwana, told journalists: “We will be looking for a reversal to the original agreements.”
The committee leadership elections were done when Mr Musyoka was on a 10-week stay in Germany where he was taking care of his sick wife Pauline.
During the elections, Mr Odinga’s ODM was accused of bulldozing coalition partners in the watchdog committees where the Opposition has the majority, and chairmanship by right.
ODM took the Public Accounts Committee chairmanship through Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, although the coalition had reportedly settled on Mr Musalia Mudavadi’s pointman, Sakwa Bunyasi (Nambale, ANC).
In the Public Investments Committee, Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir was elected chairman, leaving Butere MP Tindi Mwale of ANC complaining that his party had again been short-changed.
Mr Nassir will be deputised by another ODM lawmaker, Wajir North’s Ahmed Ibrahim.
In the Parliamentary Service Commission, Wiper has claimed it was cheated out of a seat that was to be handed to Borabu MP Bernard Momanyi.
Wiper demanded a retreat of all Nasa elected leaders to allow consensus over the seats.
But unknown to many, Wiper had signed a post-election coalition agreement with Ms Ngilu’s Narc as part of efforts to restart an outreach programme in other regions.
In the deal, Wiper will help Ms Ngilu deliver on her manifesto in Kitui where her party enjoys inferior numbers to the former’s Wiper in the county assembly.
Ms Ngilu will on her part help Mr Musyoka reach out to other regions.
The new agreement may see Ms Ngilu seek her second term in office in 2022 on Mr Musyoka’s party, just like Prof Kibwana and Ms Wavinya Ndeti did when they left their parties Muungano and Chama Cha Uzalendo respectively and were handed Wiper tickets.
According to Wiper executive director Jared Siso, the political partnership will mutually benefit both parties especially in the smooth running of counties and advancing the overall Nasa agenda as well as Mr Musyoka’s 2022 presidential bid.
“We have agreed and signed a preliminary agreement but a broader aspects of the coalition is being worked on because the parties are part of the Nasa umbrella and both Mr Musyoka and Ms Ngilu are national leaders” he said.
Dr Siso said it was on the basis of this working relationship that Governor Ngilu and Governor Kibwana took charge of the Nasa campaign to boycott the repeat presidential elections in the absence of Mr Musyoka.