WHAT PLAN?

Controversy dogs ODM’s plan to remove Malala

Coast leaders say they won't seize seat from Malala who is Senate deputy Minority leader

In Summary

• Sifuna told the Star the Senate Minority wing has lost confidence in Malala and has resolved to remove him. Was it revenue sharing or 'integrity issues'?

• On Wednesday, Malala appeared to blame Sifuna for the push to remove him from the House leadership.

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna, Saboti MP Caleb Amisi and nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi during a press briefing on October 10, 2019.
REMOVAL: Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna, Saboti MP Caleb Amisi and nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi during a press briefing on October 10, 2019.
Image: DOUGLAS OKIDDY

Controversy and confusion have marred ODM’s apparent plan to remove Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala of ANC as the Senate deputy Minority leader.

While ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna has insisted there are plans to replace the vocal senator with one from the Coast, leaders from that region have denied any plans to seize the seat from Malala.

At the same time, the Raila Odinga-led party’s national chairman John Mbadi has denied being aware of any plans to remove Malala from the plum post.

“I have no idea. We have not discussed it, I am not aware,” Mbadi said of removing Malala.

Senate Minority Chief Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jr said, “I am not aware of a Parliamentary Group meeting that has been called. I have not heard any senators declaring intention. So in I'm not aware."

Sifuna told the Star the Senate Minority wing has lost confidence in Malala and has resolved to remove him.

Sifuna said ODM, the largest party in the moribund Nasa coalition, has resolved to give the seat to the Coast.

“We met with Coast senators and we agreed we give them that seat. They will tell us whom they want to take it,” Sifuna said.

He said Malala can no longer be trusted to represent the interests of the minority party in the Senate. 

“To lead people, they must have confidence in you,” Malala told the Star on the phone.

Coast senators dismissed Sifuna’s assertions, however, saying their recent meeting with the ODM leader at his Capitol Hill office did not covers Malala’s removal.

“We have never discussed such a thing. I have never come up in any of our meetings with the party,” Taita Taveta Senator Johannes Mwaruma said.

The senator reiterated that as Coast leaders, they will seize the seat from Malala if the grounds for his purported removal is his stand on the controversial revenue sharing formula.

“That will be a betrayal of the highest order. We are the people who went to Malala to help us on the formula. How can we turn against him now? That is not possible,” Mwaruma said.

Mombasa Senator Mohammed Faki, who was part of the team that visited Raila at his Capitol Hill office last week, said, “I am not aware of such a plan.”

Malalah, a vocal ANC senator who once was a darling of ODM, recently had run-ins with the party over his stand on the controversial revenue sharing formula.

Malala was a member of ‘Team Kenya’ – the group vehemently opposing the controversial formula cutting Sh17 billion allocation to 18 counties.

Raila criticised him for opposing the formula despite his Kakamega county ‘gaining’ in millions of shillings in the proposed method.

At one time, Raila blasted him for what he termed questionable integrity and allegedly stage-managing his dramatic arrest by DCI officers at his Kitengela home.

Malala denied the claims and publicly wept during a Senate committee meeting with county security chiefs over Raila’s remarks that he stage-managed his own arrest.

On Thursday Malala appeared to blame Sifuna for the push to remove him .

“It is very bad for young leaders to fight each other. We are setting a very bad precedence. Sifuna is my brother so I don’t know why he has committed to fighting me. He is my brother and do not expect such from him,” he said.

“Raila is still my coalition leader. I still support the handshake and I don’t see any cause for alarm. If there are any changes that are supposed to be done in the Senate, they are supposed to be sanctioned by senators not outsiders,” he said.

However, Sifuna said the planned removal of the former MCA has nothing to do with his stand on revenue sharing but with integrity issues.

“There are people like Mutula Kilonzo, they were on the same team with Malala, but he conducted himself with integrity. You have not heard anybody saying we are going to remove Mutula as minority chief whip,” he said.

Sifuna added, “So the question that 'Ooh, somebody opposed the formula' is not there. It is a matter of confidence. For the specific reasons, you ask the members of the Minority leader in the Senate.”

(Edited by V. Graham)