ODM on Tuesday promised vigorous campaigns across the country next year to drum up support for the BBI even as it fought off any impression that it had lost support going by the Msambweni by-election results.
The Orange party deputy leader Hassan Joho, who is also the Mombasa Governor, said that the defeat that the party suffered in the mini-poll in Kwale County and elsewhere should not be used to gauge its popularity.
“Those thinking that the by-election was the measure of the popularity of the party are daydreaming. We conducted peaceful campaigns. As I have said before, according to us, the evening of December 15 marked the end of our campaigns. We have viewed the results. Obviously, as a party, we must do a postmortem to understand what we did wrong; where we need to correct and what we learnt. That is the process of democracy,” said Governor Joho.
He added that there was nothing unusual when the party’s candidate Omar Boga lost the Msambweni contest to Feisal Bader, an independent candidate who had received the support of politicians allied to Deputy President William Ruto.
The ruling party, which Dr Ruto is a member of, did not field a candidate in the contest in honour of the handshake between Mr Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“It is not that Mr Boga did not get votes. He garnered over 10,000 votes and the winner got slightly higher votes. Mr Boga did not get zero votes,” he noted.
Mr Joho blamed poor voter turnout for the unfavourable results that the party got from the mini-polls.
“How do you explain a by-election on a working day? It was on a Tuesday. A working day. Voter turnout is roughly 40 percent and in some areas, it was 30 percent. In general, the total percentage of voter turnout was less than 40 percent. There is also a big chance that a lot of the people never came out to vote or never had the opportunity for their voices to be heard,” said Joho.
He went on: “Only a fool would use this to determine that the popularity of the party has gone down. How is that possible? If you celebrate that then you are lost.”
The party has told the DP Ruto-led Tangatanga political wing to brace for a bruising campaign that will end at the ballot in the 2022 General Election.
On his part, Suna East MP Junet Mohamed said that even though the party lost the seat, ODM cannot be compared to Tangatanga, which has no official designation either as a party or a movement.
The latter is unknown
“The difference between ODM and Tangatanga is that the latter is unknown while ODM is a political party. The last time I heard of them (Tangatanga) they were in Jubilee but they left the party so we don’t know who or what they are. The other day I saw that they had formed a party with a wheelbarrow as its symbol so we don’t know whether that’s their party or not,” he said.
Mr Mohamed claimed that the DP has less than 50 MPs allied to him in the National Assembly.
“Where are the 150 MPs? He only has Kimani Ichung’wa, Moses Kuria and Aisha Jumwa. Where are the rest? We cannot be threatened by just one election. We are a party with enough MPs,” said Mr Mohamed.
He implored on Kenyans to support the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) saying it contains proposals that will benefit the whole country.
“We support the Handshake because we want peace in this country. We want Kenya to move forward as one people. There are people like deputy president who says that if he will not ascend to the presidency, then there is no need for peace in this country. We cannot allow such line of thoughts in this country,” he said
ODM leader Raila Odinga largely steered clear of the party’s defeat in the by-elections only saying that the party had convened the meeting to assess its performance in the mini-polls.
Mr Odinga said that the party will use the results of their assessment of the outcome to reorganise itself ahead of the 2022 General Election.
“Engagement of this nature like a by-election is always an exercise of postmortem so that we can understand the dynamics of what transpired,” he said.
Mr Odinga held a four-hour meeting with ODM party officials from Kwale county.
The ODM leader said that going forward, the party will shifts its focus on other matters of national interest.
Mr Odinga has promised Kenyans that the referendum on BBI will be held by June next year.