Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula has blamed his Opposition colleague Raila Odinga for his ouster as Senate minority leader, saying the former prime minister plotted his impeachment through a series of secret meetings with politicians from the Orange Democratic Movement wing of the National Super Alliance coalition.
As the day of the ouster approached, Mr Wetang’ula said, Mr Odinga mobilised ODM allied senators for a meeting during which the finer details of his removal were discussed and the final go-ahead given.
“I know for a fact that nothing happens in the rank and file of ODM without the knowledge, sanction or even approval of its leader,” Mr Wetang’ula told the Nation in an exclusive interview at his Nairobi office yesterday. Mr Odinga is the leader of ODM.
KICK HIM OUT
Saying he had “moved on” since the plot to kick him out was executed, the Bungoma senator spoke at length about his future political plans — he declared at the weekend that his engagement with Mr Odinga was over — the contentious issue of Mr Odinga’s mock swearing-in — which he did not attend — the feisty issue of decision making within Nasa, and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s recent truce with Mr Odinga.
“I have no ill feeling towards anybody,” he said. “I have a future to plan and people are looking up to me for leadership. My 10-year support for Mr Odinga has left me a stranger in the palace.”
Last month Nasa senators voted overwhelmingly to sack Mr Wetang’ula as their leader and replace him with Siaya senator James Orengo (ODM). They accused him of having a “condescending attitude” and low regard for some of them, particularly the nominated lot.
They also alleged that Mr Wetang’ula had refused to dialogue with them, dismissing them as “barking dogs” doing the dirty work for their owner, with whom he would rather engage.
When the motion for his removal was first presented in the House, an angry Mr Wetang’ula singled out Mr Orengo as the author of the plot for his removal and warned that the looming political divorce would be “noisy”, “messy” and full of casualties.
On Monday, we asked him to clarify who, between Mr Odinga and Mr Orengo, had fixed him. “There is no difference between the two,” he replied, matter-of-factly. “I was thoroughly pained when, during the reconciliation meeting at Panafric Hotel, ODM legislators humiliated and insulted me in the full view of their leader. Mr Odinga just sat there, listened to it all, and in the end only asked that we go for a retreat. From his body language and the statements made in that meeting, I concluded that the events of my removal had been orchestrated and rehearsed in his presence.”
On whether he had at any point referred to his fellow senators as barking dogs, he said “that is not part of my language”. Equally, the senator brushed aside claims that he is condescending towards his colleagues, especially the younger senators.
Mr Wetang’ula refused to discuss the controversial and divisive matter of Mr Odinga’s mock swearing-in, but revealed that the controversial decision to pull out Mr Odinga and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka from the October 26, 2017 repeat presidential election was not exhaustively ventilated within the coalition.
After the courts nullified the August 8, 2017 election outcome, Mr Odinga had overturned the Nasa decision-making apple cart, said Mr Wetang’ula. The coordinating committee, whose members included Mr Orengo, former Machakos senator Johnson Muthama, Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu and Nambale MP Sakwa Bunyasi — was shunted aside and Mr Odinga brought in a technical committee led by economist David Ndii.
“The committee was prominently ODM,” said Mr Wetang’ula. “It had Mr Odinga’s lawyers, strategists, advisors, and party members. We had reached a point where issues were first discussed by this group agreed upon and the summit only called in to ratify the decision. This is not the best way of running a coalition.”
As the days progressed and the rifts within the coalition widened, Mr Wetang’ula said the binding decisions of the Nasa became those made by Mr Odinga. That was how the decision to withdraw from the race “was not exhaustively discussed by the summit”, and so “we reluctantly agreed to it”.
Mr Wetang’ula further dismissed the theory that he, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka and ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi had been flirting with Jubilee Party, and particularly Deputy President William Ruto, before Mr Odinga outsmarted them and reached out to the President instead.
“Nothing can be further from the truth,” he replied, adding that none of the three was in competition with Mr Odinga on how to reach out to Jubilee Party.
Mr Wetang’ula declared that he will contest for the presidency and dismissed claims that he was laying ground to prop Mr Ruto in 2022 following last week’s meeting between Ford-Kenya MPs and the Deputy President.
“The meeting with the DP was also attended by ANC and ODM members and claims that I had dispatched them are untrue,” he said. “If that is the argument, what will one say about the presence of ODM MPs at the meeting?”