Ababu Namwamba has been criticised as an “absentee” ODM leader whose “heart is not in it”, following his complaint of frustration.
ODM professional Edwin Sifuna said Ababu, who is Budalang’i MP and ODM secretary general, should be told “in clear terms” that a leadership that does not exist cannot be undermined.
Sifuna, a lawyer, told a press conference in Nairobi on Thursday that it is time for Ababu to leave the party.
“Finally, we want to remind Ababu that he is not the only Kenyan facing frustrations in life,” said Sifuna, who chaired the defunct ODM dispute resolution panel.
He said they also wake up every day to confront a “web of inequity, tribalism and corruption spurn by the Jubilee regime in a scheme to perpetually keep us in poverty”.
Sifuna said the situation is not ideal but that they do not “cry for trophies or recognition merely for being tolerated”.
Ababu, once ODM’s rising star, broke months-long silence saying he was ” very frustrated” as secretary general but still has “fire in the belly”.
He had missed key Cord events including those surrounding the death of controversial businessman Jacob Juma and demonstrations against the IEBC.
Sifuna said electoral reforms are key if ODM is to rise to leadership.
“Yet Ababu because of his flirtation with Jubilee, does not see the need to push for reforms,” he said.
Sifuna said Luhyia men do not hide behind generalities and euphemisms like “party leadership” or “western MPs”.
He was referring to a press conference held by eight ODM MPs from Western who claimed forces within the party were bullying, frustrating and wrongly profiling them.
“From childhood we are taught to single out the source of frustration in any situation and deal with that source mundu khu mundu (man to man),” he said.
Ababu’s absence fuelled speculation about his estrangement from Cord.
The MP denied allegations he is a Jubilee mole saying this conclusion cannot be drawn simply because he sat with leaders of the ruling coalition to discuss development.
Ababu said he does not want to work in an environment in which he is “merely tolerated” but that he is not worried as he “shoots from the hip”.
A lobby group – Nyanza Young Leaders for Ababu – also dismissed the claims as malicious.
Additionally, lawyer Sifuna has often taken up many cases involving student leaders such as Babu Owino and opposition leaning bloggers who often find themselves in jail for politically instigated hate speech and defamation charges. Perhaps more importantly, Sifuna forms part of a team of lawyers that provide regular legal counsel to the Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga and his CORD co-principals on sensitive matters.
In sharp contrast, Pius Tawfiq Ababu Namwamba, who is himself a lawyer but whose membership at the Law Society long lapsed, has never shown any interest, supported, defended or advocated for anything on behalf of CORD or its people in or outside the courts. The maverick Budalangi MP is likely to be found at the underground basement of hotels somewhere along Langata Road receiving their dues or waiting for his chopper at Wilson Airport to fly off to some place.
In politics, people support a cause. Ababu has shown he would rather identify which side of his bread is buttered even if it means betraying Budalangi voters. Ababu has failed as MP, failed as PAC chair, failed as ODM Secretary General, and is struggling as a newspaper columnist earning Ksh5000 per article published on the Standard.
Edwin Sifuna on the other hand has shown remarkable bravery as he patiently serves the movement understudying veterans like James Aggrey Bob Orengo, who despite being in parliament and politics for more than three decades still keeps an active membership at the LSK while keeping his impeccable reform credentials intact. The difference between these two and Ababu Namwamba is like day and night!
Although Edu worked together with Ababu at some point, the two fell out because of the latter’s penchant for commercial rather than ideological politics. We think Edu has come of age and it is now or never.