Speaker Wetangula’s Comments Draw Strong Reaction From ODM
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has expressed its disapproval of National Assembly Speaker Wetangula’s comments regarding the party’s decision to expel five of its members.
Last Wednesday, the party made the decision to oust Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda and MPs Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Felix ‘Jalang’o’ Odiwour (Lang’ata), Caroli Omondi (Suba South), and Gideon Ochanda (Bondo) due to alleged violations of the party’s constitution.
The MPs were accused of infringing upon ODM’s constitution and the Political Parties Act 2011 by openly aligning themselves with and supporting the activities of a rival political group, as well as opposing legitimate decisions made by the party’s governing bodies.
Speaker Wetangula took the opportunity to lecture the opposition on democratic principles while critiquing them for what he perceived as the harassment of elected leaders who had chosen to work with the Kenya Kwanza government for the sake of development.
“You cannot preach democracy to the masses and then practice oppression within your own parties. Democracy should be upheld universally,” Speaker Wetangula said.
“Where I come from, it’s believed that if one doesn’t eat cow’s meat, he equally can’t drink cow’s meat soup. You can’t preach water and drink whiskey.”
In a reaction to Wetangula’s involvement in the matter, ODM raised concerns about his “partisan” role, arguing that as the House Speaker, he should maintain neutrality in legislative and political party matters.
ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna accused Wetangula of aligning himself too closely with Kenya Kwanza and undermining his role as a fair arbiter, unlike his predecessors, who prioritized statesmanship over partisanship.
ODM disregarded Wetangula’s comments and reaffirmed their commitment to follow through with the expulsions because the five MPs had chosen to support the interests of other political groups. They also reminded Wetangula that it would be his responsibility to declare those seats vacant once the due process of the expulsions was completed, so he should refrain from expressing opinions that could prejudice the matter.
ODM challenged Wetangula to step down from his role as Speaker and engage with them on the political platform if he wanted to participate as a politician. Additionally, the ODM party found it ironic that Wetangula, despite becoming National Assembly Speaker in September last year, still served as the chairman of the Ford Kenya party.
The party’s statement was released a day after the court issued temporary orders preventing ODM from expelling Ojienda, Odhiambo, and Jalang’o.
The Political Parties Disputes Tribunal issued these orders pending the hearing of a case filed on Monday challenging the expulsion of the three members.
The matter is scheduled for mention on September 25.