The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) national elections board has overruled changes reportedly made by the party’s coordinating committee in Homa Bay.
The local team had on Monday replaced Woman Rep Gladys Wanga with Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma as the county boss. He was to be deputised by Deputy Governor Hamilton Orata.
Led by the seven constituency chairpersons, the committee said the move would ensure a level playing field among all aspirants before the party primaries next year.
“Because Wanga is in the gubernatorial race and she’s also a member of the National Executive Committee, she’s been replaced as the chairperson of the coordinating committee,” said Mr Narkiso Tuko, Suba North ODM chairman.
“We undertook the process of filling in vacant slots and harmonising the list following instructions from the party leadership,” he added.
But Tuesday, the party elections board boss Catherine Mumma overruled the committee and blocked the changes.
“Constituency chairmen are not supposed to make changes in the positions of the coordinating committee chairpersons,” she said.
ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna tweeted: “The story appearing in today's Daily Nation is erroneous. No such changes have been made to the leadership in Homa Bay. Media houses are encouraged to check with the National Secretariat before running such stories.”
On Monday, Mr Tuko had said they acted on a directive from Chungwa House, which had allegedly instructed grassroots officials to harmonise their delegates at the county level.
“We submitted the final list to ODM head office. Wanga has been moved because she’s in the gubernatorial race,” he said.
Other members of the committee are Kennedy Marembo (Rangwe), Collins Oure (Suba South), George Maigo (Karachuonyo), Ogina Nyabola (Ndhiwa), Zachary Muga (Kabondo Kasipul) and Haquis Ondiwa (Homa Bay Town).
Former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero, Senator Moses Kajwang, Kuppet boss Akello Misori, ODM chairman John Mbadi, county secretary Isaiah Ogwe and finance executive Nicholas K’Oriko are also in the team.
On Tuesday, Ms Wanga protested the changes, saying the committee had no mandate to change the list of delegates.
“The party has structures on how it conducts elections. The constituency chairmen cannot make changes at the county level. If they want changes, they should wait for polls. They cannot sit down under a tree and purport to make changes,” she told the Nation.
But Mr Kaluma insisted he was the bona fide chairman, adding that party procedures allow any aggrieved member to petition the headquarters for fresh polls.
“I commend Wanga for past service and wish her well as she proceeds to serve in the party’s National Executive Committee. I now request all of us to go to work. Let us focus on the most urgent matter of getting our people to apply for IDs and register to vote,” he said.
In 2016, ODM leader Raila Odinga had to intervene when Ms Wanga and Mr Kaluma fought over the same position after a highly contentious election. The party boss settled on Ms Wanga.
In July, Ms Wanga named Ms Peres Ogutu as the acting county woman leader to replace the late Ms Ruth Ojuka. Mr Kaluma had preferred nominated MCA Nereah Amondi to take over the seat.