Inside Politics

ODM polls board fights off party primaries feud

Wednesday, April 6th, 2022 01:04 | By
ODM lawyer Tony Moturi and NEB chair Catherine Mumma address the press in Nairobi. PHOTO/Gerald Ithana

The National Elections Board (NEB) of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) yesterday defended the use of opinion polls to issue direct tickets to its candidates in the August 9 General Election.

Amid disquiet over the issuance of direct tickets, NEB argues that it has concluded conducting opinion polls to determine popularity of aspirants seeking its ticket and will use the outcome to issue direct tickets in certain regions.

It has further emerged that ODM will also issue direct tickets to popular candidate whom they scouted from other political parties within Azimio La Umoja at the end of the primaries.

ODM has staggered its primaries beginning April 4 until April 21, and has had to postpone other electoral areas.

Other than a direct ticket, the use of delegates – which was used to pick Raila Odinga as the ODM presidential candidate – and universal suffrage as methods for party nominations, the Orange party saaid it will use consensus building to allow aspirants to consult among themselves or through a third party to try and settle for a candidate.

Dr Catherine Mumma, who chairs the ODM elections board, the party will only resort to primaries “in the few instances” where competition is stiff and aspirants have failed to reach consensus. In such instances the party plans to conduct nominations through delegates and universal suffrage.

This, she explained, is a wider scheme to get more seats and avoid adversarial fallout because as “a party we want to move as a united front.”

“We also use opinion polls because they are scientific and they tell us what is happening on the ground,” Mumma told Citizen TV’s Sunday Live Programme even as she added that opinion polls actually tell aspirants of their strength and rating.

She went on: “We are not going to use an opinion poll to give a ticket to somebody who you know is going to lose.”

Mumma explained that there are a number of factors the party considers before issuing a direct ticket, including but not limited to, maybe a person is an alone candidate, but where the person has other competitors, the party looks at the opinion polls, where a person must be a clear front runner to be considered for a possible direct ticket.

“We will not necessarily give a person a direct ticket in some of the strongholds. It may be better to actually let the competitors run at the primaries,” she said.

Integrity questions

Mumma spoke even as integrity questions emerged on the authenticity of the polls with those scoring lesser indexes dismissing them and demanding that primaries be done.

Displeasure within the Raila-led party escalated on Sunday as Mombasa governor aspirant Suleiman Shahbal asked the leader to walk the democracy talk he champions by ensuring the party holds free and fair nominations.

“We are not going to allow decisions to pick ODM aspirants through opinion polls, let the people decide,” Shahbal said.“We reject any boardroom negotiations that prefer my opponent. We will not accept hand-picking of leaders for the people in Mombasa,” he added.

Opinion polls the party had sanctioned at different times in Mombasa have put Shahbal’s arch-rival Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir ahead with the latter’s camp reading malice in ODM’s cancellation of the primaries.

Last week, the Orange party postponed primaries scheduled for Friday in Nakuru and those for Mombasa and Kilifi April 5 and April 6 respectively.

“The National Elections Board will communicate outcome of the consultations and consensus-building and advice on the next steps. We urge our members to exercise patience in the meantime,” said Mumma.

ODM is reportedly keen on talking Shahbal out of the nominations contest but the businessman-cum-politician has maintained that the race is too close to call to warrant consensus.

Party is also keen on prevailing upon Deputy Governor William Kingi to back Abdulswamad with a lead in nearly all the opinion polls under review.

Mumma has defended the party from accusations that it is unfairly “talking out strong candidates”, saying it is a negotiation and that participants have to be willing to see the point the party is moving to. “I will not mention names but we are using renowned pollsters, who have done opinion polling not just for the ODM candidates, but for other hopefuls including presidential ones across the country.”

Mumma said the party’s opinion polls have captured popularity ratings of aspirants from other outfits and they were considering approaching them with offer of a direct ticket.

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