Ababu Namwamba: Has He Lost the Political Fire?

Published on 5th June 2016

He calls himself Generali (the General). Others call him Ababu Smart. The Budalangi Member of Parliament Hon. Ababu Tawfiq Namwamba has displayed nothing but brilliance and eloquence. He articulates issues affecting Kenyans in and outside parliament impressively.

His courage was evident during his swearing in as MP elect for Budalangi Constituency, after the 2007 controversial elections, in which he pledged allegiance to non-other than the Former Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Raila Amolo Odinga.

Many Kenyans believed that a new political star from the mulembe nation was born. Ababu’s eloquence and charisma on the parliamentary floor and campaign trail endeared him to many; with his characteristic military style attire, dark sunglasses and a broad smile. He has been a crowd favorite; chanting ODM slogans of anti-corruption and government incompetence.

Despite the said, Namwamba’s absence in major cord events especially the anti-IEBC protests, the funeral of fellow son of Mulembe, the fierce anti-Corruption activist Jacob Juma, has raised eyes brows from the ODM fraternity and his ardent supporters. This therefore begs this question, has Namwamba lost his political Mojo and passion as the secretary General of the largest opposition party in Kenya, ODM? Or he has retreated but not surrendered?

The position of the Party secretary general has been such powerful in post-independence Kenya; we are reminded of the former Kanu secretary general, the late Joseph Kamotho, and the former Ford Asili Secretary General, the late Martin Shikuku, amongst many others whose names are synonymous with the title of secretary general. Of course we can’t forget that former Prime minister Raila Odinga served briefly as Kanu Secretary General after the Kanu/NDP merger, before disintegration in the run up to 1997 general elections.

Party Secretary Generals serve as the mouth piece of the party by articulating its vision and ideology. It’s the job of the Secretary General to present the failures of the government and offer solutions to the Kenyan people. Since we are a democracy, Namwamba is supposed to be the pillar of accountability, fairness and promotion of justice by questioning the government’s excesses and poor governance.

The ODM Secretary General should be at the battle front in defending his party position at every forum without any contradictions. Kenyans expected Namwamba not to be at the periphery but at the Centre of the storm as democracy demands.

From the look of things, Namwamba appears to be a man under siege; caught between a rock and a hard place. Having fought off the label “Jubilee Mole,” his actions or inactions do not help but resuscitate the ugly tag. There seems to be a disconnect between ODM supporters expectations and the ODM Secretary General.

He has been missing in the Cord protests against IEBC in Nairobi only to appear in a low key protest event in Kisii which sources say was actually a coincidence since he had a meeting with Kisii County Governor James Ongwae together with Kibra MP Ken Okoth in the same day.

When Namwamba traversed the whole country alongside Turkana Governor Hon. Joseph Nanok, and Mombasa Governor Hon. Hassan Joho, in what was called “Team Fresh,” Kenyans smelt freshness. Many Kenyans thought a new strategy was born in ODM. Even though team fresh hopes for victory was shortly disrupted by the “Men in Black,” there is no doubt that many ODM supporters embraced the new leadership line-up unveiled by the party Leader, Raila Odinga; which included all members of team fresh and the opposing faction.

It is quite evident that Hon. Joho has displayed courage and willingness to stand for what is right for Kenyans. He led campaigns that saw ODM recapture the Malindi parliamentary seat in the recent by-elections. Also, Joho led the largest anti-IEBC protests outside Nairobi. Quite often, he has called out Jubilee administration for unfair treatment of the Coastal people in matters land. He has proven to be the courageous voice that is willing to hold Jubilee government accountable.

It remains to be seen whether Hon. Ababu Namwamba is worthy the mettle that many Kenyans thought he was. As ODM Secretary General, he needs to come out and speak against police brutality against peaceful demonstrators. It’s either he stands to be counted as a brilliant leader of a major political party or sink, drown and be forgotten.

By Albert Musasia
Houston, Texas
 [email protected]

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