PARTY POLITICS

Expulsion to nowhere: Political parties struggle to remove rebels

The political parties Act 2011 prohibits a member of a political party from advancing the interests of another party.

In Summary

• Early this year, Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa thwarted ODM’s attempt to kick her out of the party after she was accused of advancing Deputy President William Ruto’s 2022 presidential interests.

• In the recent past, a number of major political parties, including Jubilee, ODM and ANC, have unsuccessfully tried to discipline and even expel rebel members.

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala .
Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala .
Image: FILE

Political parties are finding themselves between a rock and hard place in dealing with rebel MPs as it becomes increasingly impossible to crack the whip, even in most clear cases of breach of law by members.

In the recent past, a number of major political parties, including Jubilee, ODM and ANC, have unsuccessfully tried to discipline and even expel rebel members.

Both former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM and Musalia Mudavadi’s ANC have expelled members, at least on their end, but the process is yet to bear fruit thanks to legal loopholes that have made it possible for the so-called rebels to easily overturn parties’ decisions.

 

Early this year, Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa thwarted ODM’s attempt to kick her out of the party after she was accused of advancing Deputy President William Ruto’s 2022 presidential interests.

On the other hand, ANC’s effort to declare nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi’s partyless has also hit a dead end after courts ruled in favour of the besieged lawmaker.

Smarting from failed Osotsi’s ouster, ANC last week yet again launched another bid to expel Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, a process that is already facing headwinds.

The disciplinary committee accused Malala of openly supporting ODM candidate Imran Okoth in the Kibra by-election, which goes against the Constitution and party's regulations.

ANC had fronted Eliud Owalo for the seat.

Malala, while addressing the press in Kakamega last Saturday, laughed off the National Disciplinary Council’s decision, saying they did not follow the due process. He said he will not waste time seeking legal redress.

The lawmaker in dismissing his alleged expulsion cited the coalition agreement – another factor which has proved to be a stumbling block in entrenching discipline – for his backing of the ODM Kibra candidate.

 

“To date, ANC has not rescinded this association publicly or privately. In the fore-stated agreement, members of affiliate parties were allowed to campaign for candidates within the coalition, their political parties notwithstanding,” Senator Malala said.

The political parties Act 2011 prohibits a member of a political party from advancing the interests of another party.

"A person who, while being a member of a political party, promotes the ideology, interests or policies of another political party shall, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1) or the provisions of any other written law, be deemed to have resigned from the previous political party,” Section 14 (5) reads.

Apart from the rush by political parties to expel members without following due process, another factor cited for the failure of parties to act is the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition chief Raila Odinga.

But according to Executive Director of Centre of Multiparty Democracy Frankline Mukwanja, the growing cases of botched expulsion in vain is attributed to the personalization of the parties by tribal kingpins that makes it impossible to ascertain party interest from the party leader’s.

Kenya’s political party culture that is characterized by dominant tribal kingpins is the main stumbling block. There is in fact, a thin line between a party position and the interests of the party leader. In most cases, the party leader’s selfish interest is packaged to look like the common good in the name the party’s position,” Mukwanja told the Star.

 “Politicians, therefore, feel least obliged to remain faithful to such undefined party ideals since they only need the tribal aspect to get elected. This culture seems to offer incentives for MPs to dissent from their parties – a situation that may be partially attributed to growing number voters who reward shows of political independence.”

Mukwanja called for institutionalisation of the political parties to overcome the personalities that remote control almost every affair of the outfits.

 Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu, however, blamed the frustrations on the parties to discipline members on the long-chain the law allows for victims of expulsion to exploit.

“Probably is the provision that allows litigation all the way, even if the party removes you the avenue of appeal are lined up all the way without timelines,” Nderitu said.

“What we encourage from where we sit is that the parties should strictly follow the provisions of the law and also stick to their constitution so that when the process is challenged then there is no loophole.”

Currently, the law allows any aggrieved member to move to the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal to challenge any decision of the party and if still aggrieved the channels are open to from High Court to the apex court in the land.