RIVAL CAMPS

Dictatorship in ODM a test of Nyanza unity

ODM has, for all intent and purpose been a one-man show, where Raila's word is law.

In Summary

• What has been muzzled for decades is coming to haunt the party, as Raila loses his mojo and traction that made him tower above other politicians.

• New players are getting bolder by the day and the seismic wave underneath is threatening to tear apart the well-knit fabric that was the former ODM party.

ODM leader Raila Odinga.
ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Image: COURTESY

The current undercurrents in ODM are symptomatic of a dying party.

The Orange party, for starters, was an accidental outfit. The casualties of the botched 2005 constitutional referendum coalesced to start a movement that crystallised to what's today the Orange Democratic Movement Party. It went through a split that saw Raila Odinga remain with what we have today.

However, instead of building a party around an ideology or philosophy, as usual with our selfish politicians, ODM followed the beaten path of organising the party around a personality. It is a political “cult” that has bred corruption, patronage, shifting goal posts and dictatorial tendencies.

ODM has, for all intent and purpose been a one-man show, where Raila's word is law. He has been enjoying fanatical following that makes any broader consultation unwelcome. While the party has been loud on "expanding the freedom and democratic space" at the national level, regionally, things are quite the opposite.

Now, what has been muzzled for decades is coming to haunt the party, as Raila loses his mojo and traction that made him tower above other politicians. New players are getting bolder by the day and the seismic wave underneath is threatening to tear apart the well-knit fabric that was the former ODM party.

By the way, save for Kanu under Mzee Kenyatta and President Daniel Moi, which operated as the only vehicle to power protected by the then constitution, no party has outlasted one election cycle and stayed formidable.

ODM stayed longer , thanks to its leader's charisma and unbowed support. Now things are going south and those who have silently harboured leadership ambitions are no longer seeing the party as a viable option.

The ones who have spoken against the ways the party is run are a mere tip of the boiling implosion that could be awaiting the Baba's special purpose vehicle. It will take much dexterity and wisdom to know that change is inevitable and when its wind blows, only the vision less can stand on its way.

Odhiambo Jamwa is an economic and political analyst