, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 8 – Recent media reports about the MP for Lugari declaring “war” on the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Local Government, Musalia Mudavadi over fired ODM councillors correctly portrays Cyrus Jirongo as, politically speaking, a juvenile miscreant ignorant of the law.
The Lugari MP either does not know the legal process of nominating and de-gazetting Councillors (a useful thought), or as usual he is up to his dishonest tactics of posturing as a guarantee to status mention by the media as a “challenger” in the political pecking order.
The facts are that the nomination and de-gazettement of councillors is strictly the responsibility of the nominating political party and the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC). The party nominates or de-gazettes as the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) approves. That is the law on which basis nominations and recalls are made by political parties. A minister signs off on an instruction and makes it official through gazettement. The process is elaborate.
Unlike nominated MPs, nominated councillors have no security of tenure. While a nominated MP can only be recalled upon his written request to the Speaker of the National Assembly, councillors are at the mercy of the sponsoring political party, including Mr Jirongo’s Kaddu. Many have been victims in recent times. It is painful. It is this evil that the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2009 by a more visionary Musalia seeks to cure. The Bill not only seeks to reduce the size of nominated councilors from the current one-third to one-sixth of those elected, but secures a five-year security of tenure for nominated councillors. One hopes the likes of Jirongo will support this Bill when tabled in Parliament.
The reality today is that being nominated a councillor is not a right but a privilege and recognition extended to members by a political party for exemplary service. If the ODM nominating party found the councillors in Lugari wanting and that they had abused the privilege by ODM, who is Jirongo to cry more than the bereaved? With hindsight, his johnny-come-lately defense of the two sacked councillors confirms ODM was right to recall them because they were Kaddu moles.
We may ask of Jirongo, “pilipili usioila yakuwashani, bwana Jirongo?” One would assume that since the de-gazetted councilors were ODM nominees the ODM fraternity in Lugari would be complaining. But no, it is Jirongo of Kaddu, who in the 2007 elections and until they were removed, remains an adversary of the councilors and ODM.
Of course declaring “war” on Musalia is infantile political grandstanding. History tells us otherwise! In every “battle” he had launched against Musalia, Jirongo has lost, and will lose miserably on this one. Importing a legion of “foreign mercenaries” to fight a domestic strife is a mark of this Jirongo weakness.
First, whatever the posturing, Jirongo cannot get the councillors re-instated. He has no locus standi either as a complainant or interested party in the matter of nomination or recall of ODM councillors. His assertion is merely ant-hill politics practiced by jilted couples. Furthermore he does not have the political muscle to carry out any threat; he is a “one-man army” against the ODM multitude, even in Lugari. It is therefore political nuisance to promise a war you are ill-prepared for.
Second, it is farcical that Jirongo wants to style himself as a defender of people’s rights. A contrast between the two leaves no doubt who is “thinking” and who is shouting platitudes. It is instructive that while Musalia wants unity of purpose in reducing poverty in Western Province, Jirongo wants ethnic solidarity in propping up his political projects.
Rather than encourage people’s efforts towards economic empowerment to alleviate poverty, Jirongo sells empty tribal unity calls meant to spruce his political deals. One can hence understand why Lugari is one of the desperately poor constituencies despite its great potential due to “siasa duni”.
(Kibisu Kabatesi is the Private Secretary and Director of Public Communication in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Local Government)