Sifuna, Coast MPs in war of words over threat to decamp ODM

Coast leaders plan to register 'regional' party ahead of 2022

In Summary

•Coast MPs have threatened to ditch ODM after they accused the party of betraying them during the vote for the disputed revenue formula.

•ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna says most of the MPs threatening the party are not its members. 

MPs from the coast region during a press conference in parliament on Thursday, July 30, 2020.
MPs from the coast region during a press conference in parliament on Thursday, July 30, 2020.

A war of words has erupted between ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna and a section of Coast MPs after the legislators threatened to cut ties with the party.

The legislators had on Thursday threatened to decamp the Raila Odinga-led party after they accused the outfit of abandoning them at their hour of need.

This followed a vote in the Senate last Tuesday where senators from Raila’s Luo Nyanza backyard supported a disputed revenue sharing formula among the 47 counties albeit with amendments.

Coast senators and other political leaders from the region have opposed the formula fronted by the Senate Finance and Budget Committee to determine how the devolved units share the national cake.

All the six counties in region save for Lamu are losing billions of shillings in the formula thus the vehement opposition from the region’s leaders.

The Coast counties are among the 18 devolved units set to lose up to Sh17 billion if the controversial formula sails through in the Senate.

On Thursday, 10 MPs from the region held a press conference where they accused ODM and Raila, who has enjoyed massive support from the region for decades, of betraying them.

“The debate and subsequent vote on the Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata’s amendments on the revenue sharing formula has exposed who our true friends are,” the leaders, led by Kilifi North MP Owen Baya, said.

The lawmakers noted that the action of the ODM senators will have political ramifications in 2022, adding that the region is considering courting new friends going forward.

The lawmakers included; Mohammed Ali (Nyali), Michael Kingi (Magarini), Aisha Jumwa (Malindi), Sharif Ali (Lamu East), Andrew Mwadime (Mwatate), Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga), Jones Mlolwa (Voi), Paul Kahindi (Kaloleni) and Benjamin Taya (Kinango)


The sentiments triggered a reaction from Sifuna, the outspoken de facto Orange party’s spokesperson.

In a strongly worded statement, Sifuna told off the MPs, saying that the majority of them are not members of ODM while a few who are members have had run-ins with the party.

“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,” Sifuna said.

He added, “A majority of the members who issued the statement  are not even members of the ODM Party and the few who are have had long known leanings to the Tangatanga side of Kenyan politics, making their views very easy to contextualize.”

Sifuna cited Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa who has been expelled from the party and ‘is hanging on her seat only courtesy of a court order.

He reiterated that Raila has had strong bonds with the coast people because of his firm stand on Coastal land rights, devolution, education, employment rights and mainstreaming of minority issues.

“Raila Odinga's name is not a development blueprint. Neither does cutting nonexistent links with ODM amount to a development project,” he said.

But the MPs, through Baya, hit back at Sifuna, terming him ‘a lazy thinker’ for always linking those critical of the party to Tangatanga – the Jubilee faction supporting Deputy President William Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid.

“The labeling of all the people who criticize the party as Tangatanga and associating them with the DP is a tired and tattered label that can only be used by lazy thinkers who cannot withstand criticism. It is no longer destructive political missile. Its political potency is dead,” he said.

Baya reiterated that any attempt by any political body to support a motion, amendment or bill to take away resources from marginalised counties under whatever ideology will be seen to be anti-Coast and will have far reaching political consequences.