ODM fights to ward off opposing parties from its strongholds
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) will this week begin a countrywide campaign to counter its political rivals in regions it has traditionally enjoyed support.
In a Parliamentary Group meeting organised by the party in Nairobi on Friday, legislators raised the alarm over rival political parties, such as the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), that have been combing regions where ODM has enjoyed massive support in the past.
Party Leader Raila Odinga announced the launch of a countrywide recruitment drive focusing on voter education and winning over new members.
“The country needs a massive political education to prepare itself for a battle that is underway against a marauding, energetic, corrupt and deceptive dictatorship,” he said. “We need new members and we need a new understanding of what is taking shape in the country and how to confront it.”
Raila said the new members will undergo training on principles of unity, patriotism, democracy, honesty and hard work.
“We are going out to particularly look out for young people who are ready to learn and keen to have it in the record of their lives that they worked to build a country and a way of life better than what we have today,” he said.
ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna announced that the party would conduct the recruitment ahead of the party’s grassroots elections early next year.
“We shall move from county to county to recruit members,” said Sifuna.
The party also the read Riot Act to its disloyal members, warning them of disciplinary action should their activities sabotage the welfare and interest of the party.
On Saturday, the party, through Leader of Minority in the National Assembly and Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, led a recruitment drive in Narok North to consolidate support for the party. The party is seeking to elect officials from the smallest electoral unit, which is the polling station, to wards and county level.
The elections will lead to a National Delegates Convention (NDC) during which members will elect national officials. ODM has never held internal elections since 2014 when a planned exercise at Kasarani aborted midway after violence erupted.
ODM’s move to secure its turf comes in the wake of efforts by its rival, UDA, to eat a slice of ODM’s vote-rich backyard of Nyanza. UDA — through its Nyanza Region Coordinator Okoth Obado — has been leading a recruitment drive that has led to several defections.
Obado has conducted the membership drive in Homa Bay and Kisumu.
“Data from Homa Bay is encouraging; the county is leading in the registration of new members. Of the over 400,000 registered voters in the county, records at the Registrar of Political Parties show that UDA membership in Homa Bay is racing past 200,000,” Obado claimed last week.
At the weekend, the party postponed elections it had scheduled for next month after a meeting chaired by President William Ruto. Although it did not explain why the elections were put on hold until April, sources told journalists that there were fears of a fall-out after leaders from central Kenya made several demands for key seats, including one deputy party leader and the position of secretary-general.