ODM owns up to its challenges days after Raila Junior called the bluff

ODM party National Chairman John Mbadi (left) and Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna in a past press conference. [File, Standard]

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has acknowledged that it has its own share of challenges but said it is revamping itself ahead of the 2022 elections.

Yesterday, Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna said they are laying ground to ensure ODM, which had its MPs reduced to 67 from 100 in 2007, remains the largest political party in Kenya.

“We have honestly looked at ourselves and even commissioned a task force to look into what has been happening. The team’s report, whose recommendations we have implemented, came with some indictment,” said Sifuna.

He said reduction in the number of ODM legislators was a matter of concern to the party leadership and that they are engaging radical strategies to recapture lost ground.

“When I took over as SG in 2018, we commissioned a taskforce to look into how we can improve the party and its report was damming,” he told a meeting where ODM officials had met journalists at a Nairobi hotel yesterday.

He added: “We wanted the taskforce to tell us what the problem is, based on the report tabled before the National Executive Council (NEC) and adopted in its entirety. We have since disbanded the National Election Board (NEB) because of issues around nominations. In the same vein, we also disbanded the national Disciplinary Committee after it failed to deal with rebellious Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa.”

Sifuna’s statement came just days after Raila’s son, Raila Odinga Junior, claimed the party needed to find ‘its way back to basics’. Raila Junior said ODM should dwell on its development agenda “as outlined in our manifesto.” “Let’s focus on service delivery, protecting democratic space and private citizen rights,” he said in a tweet.

Private jets

“..we’re not just about private jets and slay queens whilst abusing rival politicians. We have a development agenda clearly outlined in our manifesto,” Raila Junior tweeted on Wednesday.

The Catherine Mumma-led taskforce, in its March report, blamed the ODM Secretariat, the National Executive Committee and NEB for its loss in 2017 polls.

“The biggest concern with ODM is a failure to respect its own constitution and regulations. The party structures are clear, from the grassroots to the top, but the implementation of the constitution and the functionality of the structures, particularly at the grassroots, is wanting,” the report noted.

The report specifically accused the three organs of deliberately bungling party primaries.

Sifuna said they are doing everything possible to get it right in 2022.

Among the changes the party has so far made include removal of the NEB chairperson Senator Judy Pareno who was replaced by Ms Mumma.

Last month, Prof Ben Sihanya was appointed chairman of ODM Disciplinary Committee to replace Paul Athuok.

Sifuna said ODM will also implement the deferred academic qualification requirement for MCAs as passed by parliament.

He said ODM is also supporting the Party Primaries Bill, that sets out the criteria for nominating candidates to positions, considering women, youth and the disabled.

The party’s Executive Director Oduor Ong’wen said: “ODM exists because of fighting for human dignity, devolution and other issues that affected the people.”

Sifuna also said the party is pushing to have the Office of the Director Public Prosecution get powers to prosecute government officials and politicians censured in the Auditor General reports.

The party’s proposal on the DPP has been handed to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) steering committee chaired by Senator Yusuf Haji. If adopted, then the ODPP will not have to wait for parliamentary committees to consider and adopt its reports before action is taken on suspects.

“This is the best practice because delayed passage of the reports by parliament enables mischievous suspects to cover their tracks,” said Sifuna.

The party also wants the Auditor General to address parliament annually on the status of audits, expedite of public funds to prosecution of offenders, in the yet to be released BBI report.

Further, the party wants the National Treasury, Controller of Budgets (CoB) and the Auditor General to be stop policing county government. It wants the agencies to also act independently, devoid of influence of the Executive.

This will once and for all cure the mischief where these agencies tend to act on behalf of the national government, according to the party.

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