ODM to use secret ballot during nominations, official assures

Catherine Mumma

Ms Catherine Mumma, ODM’s elections’ board chairperson, takes oath in 2020. She says the party will conduct secret ballot nominations. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The announcement allays fears among aspirants who had opposed the delegates’ system.
  • Critics had said that the delegates’ system is prone to abuse and manipulation.

The ODM party has changed its nomination mode from a delegates’ system to where voters will pick aspirants directly.

The party assured aspirants seeking to use its ticket in the forthcoming General Election that delegates will not have a final say in nominating candidates ahead of the 2022 polls.

This is contrary to what deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya announced last week that ODM might resort to hand-picking of candidates or use delegates in its primaries.

"The party has agreed to change the system of conducting primaries. We will not subject aspirants to nominations but either hand-pick or use a delegate system," the Kakamega governor said last week.

The move caused jitters among some aspirants, who are not in good terms with the delegates while others had welcomed the decision arguing that it was the panacea to the shambolic nomination exercise.

But yesterday, National Elections Board (NEB) chairperson Catherine Mumma, whose docket is concerned with conducting nominations said the party will only use delegates in the nomination of the presidential candidate.

Chaotic nominations

Ms Mumma told the Nation that the delegates’ system will not be applied to aspirants seeking governor, Senate, MP and ward reps posts.

“Voting for presidential candidates will be by delegates while nomination for other candidates will be by registered party members,” she said in a brief response to the Nation.

Mr Odinga recently disclosed that the party’s NEB had conducted a research to establish why ODM’s nominations are sometimes chaotic and the report tabled had suggested that in certain areas, the party might resort to secret ballot, interviews, negotiations among aspirants and direct nominations.

“You cannot join the party today and start using money then you want it to favour you at the expense of individuals who have been loyal for years. NEB recently received a report on why nominations are chaotic and they will implement it in the coming primaries,” Mr Odinga said in an earlier interview.

The former prime minister had also cited financial constraints as to why nominations through secret ballot cannot be done across the country.

“As a party, we are not like the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to conduct nominations in every polling station. We do not have such money because IEBC gets billions of shillings for the job?” he posed.

The battle for ODM presidential ticket has narrowed down to Mr Odinga and businessman-cum-politician Jimi Wanjigi after Mr Oparanya and his Mombasa governor Ali Hassan Joho shelved their ambitions.

Delegates’ system

The duo who are serving their second and last term, had expressed interest in occupying State House, and had launched their bid for the ODM ticket.

“I have been in politics for over 20 years. I can see gaps in leadership and I had declared that I would want to make a stab at presidency come 2022 because I have enough experience but I have seen my father Raila is there, I respect him and when he said he wants it, I accepted and I will rally behind him,” Mr Oparanya explained.

With Mr Joho also bowed out of the race for Mr Odinga’s sake. 

Mr Wanjigi has faulted ODM for the delegates’ system. “We are complaining of those elections being held in the dark because we must be transparent. We need to know who those delegates are, give us the list of all delegates across the country, branch officials so that we can approach them,” he said recently at the Coast.

He further dared Mr Odinga to declare his presidential bid while accusing the former prime minister of trying to influence the party’s nomination process.

“You cannot be the referee, linesman at the same time, it cannot be. Let him declare his candidacy like me and agree on fair play and come up with rules of the game.”

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