IDA ALLIES TRIUMPH OVER MPS
Some ODM women leaders are unhappy with the role Prime Minister Raila Odinga's wife Ida is playing in his election campaign. Ida appears to have outwitted some of the leaders when she managed to get her allies elected to the Orange Women Democrats League last Saturday. Those unhappy, mainly MPs, accuse Ida of elbowing them out of strategy and campaign teams as well. According to them, last Saturday's events at Bomas of Kenya were a clear example of how Raila's wife is working behind the scenes to sideline some ODM leaders.
Ida is understood to be interested in controlling part of her husband's campaign machinery. "We are upset that despite the work we have done in the last few weeks with the ODM Reloaded team where we have traversed the whole country campaigning for Raila, Ida does not seem to see our contribution. This is not the time to have turf wars. Let us accommodate everybody," said an MP who asked not to be named for fear of being reprimanded.
Yesterday, we were unable to reach Ida as her mobile phone went answered. Ida does not have a formal role in the Prime Minister's presidential campaign team but according to Miguna Miguna in his book, Peeling back the Mask, she is the most powerful of the PM's advisers. During the Orange Women's Congress at Bomas on Saturday, Ida was accused of imposing a team allied to her into the ODM National Women Democrats League leadership amid chaos.
The elections turned chaotic with a furious nominated MP Rachel Shebesh almost roughing up Philip Okundi, the ODM National Elections Board chairman. Okundi was whisked away by police officers as the elections went on amid chaos with irate women delegates throwing chairs at him. The elections boss is said to have bent the rules to allow Ida's preferred candidate Beth Syeng'o from Kitui to win against Shebesh's preferred candidate Fridah Mwadime from Taita Taveta who seemed to enjoy support on the floor.
Apart from Shebesh, others women leaders who backed Mwadime were MPs Millie Odhiambo and Joyce Laboso and NEC members Rosa Buyu, Margaret Sewe, Elizabeth Kimkung and Mishi Mbogho. Only Nairobi Metropolitan assistant minister Elizabeth Ongoro supported Ida's choice for the chairmanship of the organisation.
The ODM election and nomination rules state that any elections will be held through secret ballot or any other means acceptable to the delegates. On Saturday, majority of the more than 1,300 delegates supported a consensus that there would be no fallout out between the camps. However, Okundi, who was seen consulting some of his commissioners, stood up and surprised many when he announced the elections would be done through queue voting.
Delegates allied to Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru were allowed to vote despite the fact that there was doubt about their party membership status. Wanjiru, the leader of the ODM Reloaded team, had left the venue before the polls began for reasons that were not made public. Women delegates who were accredited as observers and invited guests were also allowed to vote in spite of protests from the irate MPs.
As soon as Okundi declared Syengo the victor, chaos erupted with Shebesh charging towards him and shouting, "We cannot allow rigging. These elections are flawed. No rigging, no rigging..." Elections for other positions did not take place due to the chaos. By the time the poll was taking place, Ida had left the venue and only Ongoro was left to ensure their team won.
Ida is said to be keen to be actively involved in ODM politics so as to check the women she believes are becoming too influential within the party. She has also come up with her own parallel lobby group dubbed Sibanduki and has fought her way into the ODM register as a delegate for Nairobi. The PM's wife has also asked for a position to be reserved for her in the Nairobi County Executive Committee of 20.
Through the Sibanduki team, Ida has strategised to ensure she is central in Raila's campaign and controls some campaign funds. This, according to insiders in Raila's camp, has caused so much concern that the premier's presidential campaign secretariat put out an advert asking all those lobbies campaigning for Raila to be registered with it in two weeks time. "It is Sibanduki which is targeted in the advert since it appears Ida wants to take over everything from the secretariat and even party headquarters," a source said.
Addressing delegates before the elections, Ida appeared to be aware of the rivalry when she cautioned women against fighting each other and urged them to unite, work as a team and help build Kenya. She said she will work with the team of women leaders elected in Saturday's elections, saying the poll should not be the cause of divisions among the women of the party. Ida lauded ODM for establishing the Orange Women Democrats League which she said was the best vehicle for the party women to chart their way forward.