KRA Chairman, Anthony Mwaura

UDA National Elections Board chair Anthony Mwaura. He said the party has put in place measures to deliver credible party elections.

| File | Nation Media Group

Inside UDA's 190,000-candidate grassroots elections beginning Friday

What you need to know:

  • The ruling party has procured 10,000 tablets to facilitate electronic voting, designed to deliver a credible exercise.
  • UDA has hired a clerk and a presiding officer to man each polling centre.

President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) has put elaborate plans in place for its ambitious grassroots elections starting on Friday, in which at least 190,000 candidates will be seeking positions.

In the first phase covering five counties; Nairobi, Narok, West-Pokot, Busia and Homa Bay, the party is making final plans to deliver election materials in 2,337 polling centres by tomorrow.

The ruling party has procured 10,000 tablets to facilitate electronic voting, designed to deliver a credible exercise.

Official data by the party shows 189,638 UDA registered members have applied to contest for the 20 positions declared vacant at the 27,397 polling centres spread across the country.

The number is expected to increase after the party opens up the portal for those who had been locked out. Application for those seeking to participate in the first phase closed last evening while the other regions remain open.

UDA’s headquarters was on Wednesday a beehive of activities as its Information Technology officers were configuring and uploading data of the candidates in at least 3,500 tablets to be deployed in the first phase of the exercise.

In an exclusive interview, UDA National Elections Board chair Antony Mwaura said the party has put in place measures to deliver a credible election. He said preparations are in the final stages for the polls to be conducted in 372 polling centres in Nairobi, Narok (589), Busia (462), West Pokot (512) and Homa Bay 402.

“On Wednesday (today) it will be about logistics and transporting of materials to the polling centres. We will start with Busia, West Pokot and Homa Bay. All the poll materials will be at the ward centres in all the five counties by Thursday,” Mr Mwaura said.

“We will train our clerks and presiding officers on Thursday, then they will be given the gadgets and proceed to their respective polling centres. The polls will start on Friday at 9am and end at 3pm,” he explained.

UDA has hired a clerk and a presiding officer to man each polling centre. In the first phase, the party is expected to have fierce competition in Nairobi and Narok. 

Mr Mwaura said the party has more than 800,000 registered members in Nairobi.

Two factions have emerged in Nairobi, with Governor Johnson Sakaja on one side and Embakasi North MP James Gakuya on the other. Both are eyeing the UDA Nairobi County branch chairperson’s position. Mr Gakuya has the backing of Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua while Mr Sakaja is said to be enjoying the support of a majority of Members of the County Assembly.

In Narok, Governor Patrick ole Ntutu and his predecessor Samuel Tunai are set to face off in the battle for the party leadership.

A breakdown of the number of candidates seeking to be party officials in the first five counties shows that West Pokot has registered the highest at 25,547 candidates, followed by Homa Bay at 17,301, Narok (16,152), Nairobi (13,549) and Busia (10,019).

Party elections have in the past turned divisive and chaotic resulting in major fallouts, a scenario that has made many outfits avoid holding party elections.

Dr Ruto, last year while addressing UDA National Governing Council delegates, said he is aware that the planned exercise has the potential of triggering an implosion in the party. But he noted that having the polls early leaves enough time to deal with the aftermath. 

Mr Mwaura told the Nation that they have put in place measures to deal with any dispute arising from the outcome of the grassroots elections. He said candidates will have two days to lodge any complaints, with the party Election Dispute Resolution Committee (EDRC) having seven days to resolve such disputes.

He explained that it is after resolving any dispute arising from the polling centre that the exercise will progress to the ward level and subsequently to the constituency and county.

“Anybody who will be dissatisfied would be at liberty to appeal to our EDRC. We have given them 24 hours to register their complaints. EDRC has seven days to sort the complaints. After seven days we proceed to the ward level,” he explained.

Mr Mwaura said other parties have in the past failed to conduct elections because of the fears and suspicion by members of being rigged out.

“Running elections is not easy. You need to be as honest and credible as possible. The results must be verifiable. You need to give people confidence the elections shall be conducted as per the regulations; you need to be above board,” said Mr Mwaura.

“The nominations we carried last time were very credible. Most of our candidates were able to be elected at the general elections because our elections were very credible. I have told my board members that they need to be above board; and desist from bribery. Most of these confusions in party elections come from bribery; because if you are bribed and you don’t deliver, then there would be chaos. I can tell you we are going to deliver a credible election,” he said.

The board chairperson said the party staggered the elections to cut on the cost of procuring the tablets.

The party has since brought in 5,000 tablets, with the remaining 5,000 set to arrive next week. In the first phase of the election, the party is set to deploy 3,500 tablets. In the second phase of the exercise scheduled for June, the party is set to deploy 9,300 tablets. The tablets will be reconfigured and reused in other areas.

“In the whole country, we have more than 27200 polling centres, so it means we need about 30,000 gadgets. Because of that, we had to stagger,” he said.

At the polling centre level, party members will elect a total of 20 officials. They include three representatives of religious groups, traders (fours), professionals (three), youth (four), Special Interest Groups (One), and farmers (three) as well as two party members – a woman and a man.

The party has declared 18 positions at the ward, constituency and county levels.

The 20 polling centres officials elected by the party members plus elected and nominated MCAs will form the ward Congress. The congress will proceed to elect 20 ward officials from amongst themselves.

Further, the 20 ward officials from each ward in a constituency, plus elected and nominated MPs will form the Constituency Congress. The constituency congress will elect 20 officials from amongst themselves.

The 20 elected constituency officials plus Governors, Deputy governors, Senators and Woman Reps will congregate and form the county Congress. The team will elect 20 county officials from amongst themselves.

All county officials (20) and seven officials (7) at the constituency – which include the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson, Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Treasurer, Organizing Secretary and a Youth Rep – and all the elected and nominated leaders will constitute the National Delegate Congress which will elect the National officials.