Why ODM wants delegates to pick 2022 candidates

Wednesday, October 27th, 2021 00:00 | By
ODM nominations at Kasarani in Nairobi that were disrupted by the famous ‘Men in Black’ in 2016. Photo/PD/File

Opposition chief Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) announced yesterday that it will nominate candidates eyeing various seats in next year’s elections using party delegates.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, a deputy party leader, said ODM will also handpick some candidates perceived to be the most popular in their electoral areas.

Oparanya said the party would not use universal suffrage over fears that the process may be infiltrated by opponents to plant weak candidates ahead of the 2022 General-Election.

“The party has agreed to change the system of conducting primaries. We will not subject aspirants to nominations but either handpick or use delegates system to nominate candidates seeking seats as Ward Reps, Members of Parliament, senators and governors,” Oparanya, who was speaking in Kakamega, revealed. 

Botched primaries

Party primaries have consistently been a major headache for the Orange party, which is usually accused of conducting botched primaries that lead to fallouts and loss of allies to its opponents.

A taskforce set up in 2018 to assess the party’s fortunes returned the harsh verdict that rigged primaries and poor dispute resolution mechanisms were the bane of ODM’s performance in general elections.

Report of the five-member team released in March last year pointed out that the shady process of compiling party lists, provided a window for rigging.

“Greatest vice of ODM is the rigged electoral system for conducting party primaries.

It is felt that the party supports anyone during the primaries so long as such persons pay to be party candidates,” the report. 

Following the verdict, Raila has been promising aspirants for various seats that ODM will this time round conduct free, transparent and fair nominations.

Oparanya spoke when he separately hosted Ward Reps from Bungoma and ODM aspirants for various seats from West Pokot at the Kakamega Golf Hotel on Monday night.

He pointed out that the move to handpick or use the delegates system was aimed at cushioning their candidates from huge expenses during nominations to enable them spare the cash for the General Election.

“The new system will cut down on costs that aspirants incur in the nominations.

We want to save them from such expenses through a cheap nomination process,” he added. 

Adequate measures

He pointed out that ODM was putting in place adequate measures to ensure the new system works for all aspirants countrywide.

According to the Kakamega county chief, the party will not waste time and resources “in areas we are certain that we already have formidable candidates that should be spared nomination headache”.

He added: “We are strengthening our electoral systems to ensure we hold free and democratic nominations devoid of fallouts.” 

Governor said changes in the party’s electoral process was informed by the fact that ODM lost many seats in the last polls because of flawed nominations.

Oparanya disclosed that they were conducting opinion polls for various aspirants eyeing the party’s ticket countrywide to gauge their popularity in their respective areas so as to ascertain who could be handed direct tickets without going through the rigours of primaries.

“I will personally sacrifice to ensure that our party’s National Elections Board conducts free and fair nominations,” he said. 

The decision could put the party on a collision course with presidential hopeful Jimmi Wanjigi, who has warned of a plan by the party’s leadership to handpick candidates.

Wanjigi, in a letter to ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna, last month, accused some party officials of plotting to use “consensus” to handpick its torchbearer for the 2022 presidential race.

He warned such a method would be an affront on democracy and would kill the party altogether.

The businessman termed the consensus approach “a gross violation of the party constitution, vague, improper and clearly flies in the face of the mood of members, who wish to participate in a transparent democratic process to reinvigorate the party for the 2022 elections”.

He added: “As matters stand now, your office and the National Elections Board is acting contrary to the party constitution.”

Wanjigi maintained that his demands for a democratic process in picking candidates is anchored in the constitution that has governed ODM in its 16 years of existence.

“I have seen media reports quoting party officials stating that office bearers will be selected by some form of consensus. That approach is a gross violation of the party constitution. 

Article 6 of the party’s constitution provides that where an office is contested by more than one candidate, the vote shall be decided by a simple majority.”

Wanjigi also argued that article 6.2.2 states that elections of national officials shall be conducted through secret ballot, adding that the constitution also prescribes the same letter and spirit for branch and grassroots elections.

But, according to Sifuna, the rules provide for four ways of nominating party candidates.

 “You can have nomination through consensus, direct ticket, delegates or through universal suffrage,” Sifuna said in response to the billionaire, who has been going round the country opening parallel ODM offices.  

Sifuna advised interested aspirants to acquaint themselves with the party’s rules before seeking to be nominated.

Speaking to People Daily yesterday, Sifuna maintained that the party did not have preferred candidates for any positions.

“Our current preoccupation is with voter listing and we expect the media to push for allocation of money so that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission can conduct voter education,” he said.

Free and fair contest

Separately, Kisumu Senator Fred Outa asked ODM to subject all aspirants to a free and fair contest, without leaning on any one side or hoarding secret candidates.

‘’If anyone thinks that he or she is popular enough then let us meet at the ballot where the people hold a say on who they want to govern them,’’ said Outa who will be contesting the Kisumu governorship against  Anyang Nyong’o.

Former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo also warned against biased nominations.

He claimed that as long as political parties are run like clubs, the objective of free and fair nominations will remain a mirage.

On his side, Bondo MP Gedion Ochanda said the party had numerous options of picking its candidates. 

“There is nothing wrong for the party to handpick candidates in certain areas who its leaders believe espouse its values and ideals,” said Ochanda.

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