The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party is launching its new party headquarters christened Chungwa House after moving from Orange House.
On 16th September, the party ended its 12-year tenancy at the Kilimani-base Orange House and moved to the newly built Ksh180 million Chungwa House in Lavington.
ODM Party was formed after the 2005 constitutional referendum, which the ‘NO’ vote won the majority and defeated what had been labelled the ‘Wako Draft’, after the former Attorney General Amos Wako, who was accused of making changes to the constitution against the amendments suggested at Bomas.
In its formative years, the NO vote leaders included some strange bedfellows.
After having been defeated in the 2002 presidential election, current President Uhuru Kenyatta was the official opposition leader and a member of ODM it is early years.
DP William Ruto was also a strong member of ODM party which he contested in and won the former Eldoret North Constituency Seat.
Majority Leader Aden Duale was also once an ODM MP, as was former Budalang’i MP and current Foreign Affairs Cabinet Administrative Secretary Ababu Namwamba.
Others are former Gachoka MP and presidential aspirant Joe Nyagah, current Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, the late William ole Ntimama and the late Kipkalia Kones, former Bureti MP Franklin Bett and Margaret Kamar.
Former National Assembly speaker Kenneth Marende who became the speaker of parliament due to ODM massive numbers in the house remembers fondly how he set up ODM’s Constitution, Elections and Regulations Committee.
“We formed ODM after the 2005 constitutional referendum and in 2007, I became its chairman of the Constitution, Elections and Regulations Committee. I am the one who crafted its elections, nominations and other administrative documents,” Mr Marende said.
He added: “I solved disputes fairly, like in 2007, when Rachel Shebesh and Elizabeth Ongoro disagreed. We found out that Ongoro won the ticket and we issued her with the certificate”.
Events at Orange House haven’t been all rosy, as one incident stands ut in my mind; that of chasing away of Magerer Langat.
In 2015, former Executive Director of the ODM was pulled out of his chair at a function for the party, roughed up and thrown out in broad daylight at Orange House. He was accused of being disrespectful of party wishes and a DP Ruto mole.
The former Kipkelion legislator however, defended himself stating that he was chased away because of his firm stance against misuse of party funds.
‘I was being vilified because of my firmness and transparency. Among other things, I have ensured the Sh87 million from the exchequer was not misused by some greedy party members’, Magerer said in 2015.In June 2018, the owner of the Orange House, former Raila aide, Caroli Omondi refused to renew the lease for ODM to use the premises after it expired. That time, the executive Director Oduor Ong’wen confiemed that they were indeed preparing to leave the Orange House for a new headquarter.
“Our lease is coming to a close and in the course of the week we are going to advertise. You know this is something that once we finalise, becomes public. It can’t be a secret,” Ong’wen said.
Even as ODM Party moves into its new headquarters, the stay at Orange House will truly remain one of the most important history of the party.
Photos: The new headquarters launch