Direct ticket spark off row in Raila's ODM party

This even as the party’s National Elections Board on Tuesday launched a Sh100 million e-voting system

In Summary
  • ODM will be conducting digital nominations.
  • NEB said only areas where there is consensus is where direct tickets apply

ODM Party NEB chairperson Catherine Mumma denied any wrongdoing in the move stating that only areas where consensus had been reached were issued with the nomination certificates.

ODM leader Raila Odinga in Nairobi Hotel on March 3
ODM leader Raila Odinga in Nairobi Hotel on March 3

There is increasing tension in Raila Odinga’s ODM over a curious move to hand direction tickets to select party bigwigs.

The 17-year-old party is issuing direct tickets to perceived loyalists for various elective seats across the country as well as rewarding strong defectors from other fringe parties. 

This even as the party’s National Elections Board on Tuesday launched a Sh100 million e-voting system.

The system will replace the manual register during the universal suffrage primaries in select regions where consensus efforts have failed. 

The NEB Board chaired by Catherine Mumma on Tuesday announced that the party had received a certified membership register from the Registrar of Parties for the primaries. 

“Only certified members will participate in the exercise, they will walk into polling stations and will be shown an e-ballot where they will cast their votes,” Mumma said at a briefing in Orange House. 

The move, however, sparked protests from some aspirants who claimed that it is a decoy to sanitise an already flawed exercise where preferred candidates are already predetermined. 

The use of technology is a complete departure from earlier primaries when the party used manual voting to get popular candidates.  

However, insiders are raising questions on the party's preparedness to roll out a digital exercise when no dry run had been done to the equipment ahead of the Friday nomination. 

"It is interesting that we want to conduct the digital nominations but nobody has been trained on the usage of the tablets," a senior party official said. 

The party has of late been facing backlash from aspirants after it emerged that some aspirants were being issued with direct certificates.

Direct tickets are issued to aspirants to participate in an election without subjecting them to primaries. 

However, Mumma insisted that the Central Management Committee has not sanctioned any issuance of direct tickets to any aspirants where there is more than one contestant. 

This position, however, is at variance from official communications from the NEB to some aspirants who received regret letters despite paying nomination fees to the party. 

Garissa Governor Ali Korane last week received a regret letter by NEB after the party decided to hand former governor Nadhif Jama a direct ticket. 

“The CMC is yet to hold any meeting to sanction direct tickets to areas where we have more than one contestant,” Mumma said. 

Since last week, the party’s move to issue direct ticket has raffled feathers with a number of disfranchised aspirants considering to resign and present themselves as independent candidates. 

The party has issued tickets to former Ketraco boss Fernandes Barasa (Kakamega), former Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga (Kwale) and Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay). 

The party also issued tickets to Tindi Mwale (Butere), Titus Khamala (Lurambi), Peter Nabulindo (Matungu), Christopher Aseka (Khwisero) and Majority Whip Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo). 

However, the NEB claimed that some of the beneficiaries were strong candidates who joined ODM from fringe parties. 

As the party denied that it has issued direct nominations, some aspirants in Nyanza ditched the party over fears their rivals had pocketed tickets. 

Yesterday, former Police spokesperson Charles Owino and Siaya governor aspirant bolted out of the race for the ODM ticket accusing the outfit of having a preferred candidate. 

Owino has now teamed up with former Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo to contest the Siaya gubernatorial seat on United Democratic Movement  party led by Mandera Governor Ali Roba 

Gumbo will now be deputised by Owino in the contest pitying the duo against Siaya Senator James Orengo who is now the sole ODM candidate. 

Speaking after they were received by Roba at UDM headquarters in Nairobi, the duo castigated ODM’s method of hand-picking candidates saying it is a recipe for voter apathy. 

“I want to tell you without fear of contradiction that this pairing is what the people of Siaya and Kenyans in general have been waiting for. Siaya has been a giant that has not lived the expectations of the electorate,” Gumbo said. 

Owino disclosed that he quietly resigned from ODM on March 24, two days to the deadline for party hopping after realising the primaries will not be free and fair. 

ODM was to hold nomination on April 14, in Siaya county according to the schedule released by the NEB. 

“The main reason why we have come together is that we have noticed we were going to have serious voter apathy in Siaya,” he said. 

There are reports that the party was putting pressure on some aspirants to step down for favoured candidates, precipitating a stand-off that could threaten ODM’s image. 

There is a lot of haggling and horse-trading in Raila’s Nyanza backyard as the party seeks to avert negative competition that might benefit rival outfits. 

On Tuesday, Raila held a meeting with the Mumma-led board and some top party officials in a bid to strike a balance and fight off claims of preferred aspirants line-ups. 

"The ODM party is in the process of carrying out its party nomination. The first and most important method is arriving at candidates through consensus. We are encouraging this to avoid adversities among candidates," Mumma said. 

She said the party is prioritising consensus amongst aspirants to avoid a divisive primary in the party. 

"We are encouraging the aspirants to speak to each other and not be negatively competitive. We have issued direct tickets in seats where we have a single candidate and in cases of cultural nomination by communities."

Mumma also explained that strong candidates who crossed over to ODM were also candidates for direct ticket, a deliberate move the party has adopted to increase their numbers in the coming polls. 

She further explained the party’s top organ, CMC, will make a decision on who gets a direct nomination, a decision she noted is based on scientific opinion polls commissioned by the party. 

A schedule released by the party last week shows the exercise will start  in Nakuru and Turkana this Friday, followed by Narok and Kajiado.

The NEB will then move to Kilifi and Tana River (April 4), Taita Taveta and Kwale (April 5), Mombasa (April 6), Kisii and Nyamira (April 7), Vihiga, Busia (April 12), Kisumu (April 13) and Siaya (April 14) 

According to NEB schedule, the exercise will be held in Bungoma and Trans Nzoia (April 15), Migori (April 16), Homa Bay (April 18) and Kakamega (April 19). 

However, Mumma on Tuesday said outcome of ongoing nominations will determine the need of conducting primaries in the areas. 

"If we learn that in the electoral area we are going to the candidates have reached a consensus, don't be surprised if we don't conduct voting nomination in the area,"  she said. 

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