Raila’s move to give free nominations was an affront to democracy
In the previous elections, I did not give much attention to the reports that ODM leader Raila Odinga was dishing out free nominations certificates to his loyalists and moneyed aspirants. Though there was no evidence to prove these allegations, reports indicated that he would rake in millions of shillings.
At the time, it is only a keen observer who would have realized that Odinga’s party was engaging in activities that undermined democratic tents and public participation. Before explaining why I did not respond at the time, allow me to state one thing. This problem cut across all major political parties but many believe it has been rampant in different parties unveiled and led by Raila since the re-introduction of multi-party democracy. The stakes are higher in Luo Nyanza because you cannot win a seat without his blessing.
Why it is hard to address this challenge? Just like it is the case in other parts of the world, our democracy is not anchored on ideology and people driven values. Political parties are formed or bought by individuals to champion their selfish political interests. If the owner quits, the party cease to exist.
This explains why the leaders of NASA’s affiliate parties would not agree dissolve their respective outfits and form a single and formidable political vehicle. Jubilee house is also facing similar challenges. The efforts by the top leadership to fold the affiliate parties would not bear much fruit. A number of outfits have since defied UhuRuto and vowed to field candidates to contest all the elective posts apart from the presidency.
But this would not change the position of President Uhuru. Jubilee has no favorites. It will not give any one a free ride. All aspirants seeking its ticket must be prepared to participate in free, fair and credible nominations.
In advanced democracies and developed countries such as America and Britain, you find that there are only two major parties. The citizens would make their choices based on ideologies and vision that each present. In Kenya, we have 67 registered parties. The major ones are associated with certain individuals and would give priority to championing the interests of their tribe and regions.
A few days ago, ODM convened a meeting at the Bomas of Kenya and this time agenda would draw my attention. For the first time, Raila would dish out the highest number of free tickets. The total number stood 850 ODM aspirants. Looking at the list, a cross section of Kenyans would argue that money and loyalty were the main considerations. In fact, some of incumbent governor aspirants are on record pledging to bankroll his presidential campaigns.
For me, a number of questions would come to my mind. Where does this leave ODM supporters? Does this confirm that Raila does not believe in tenets of democracy? How does he expect Kenyans to believe in his leadership when he resorts to imposing leaders down their throats? Raila projects himself the father of democracy. Can he tell us what it means to him?
The explanation that those given free tickets were not facing any opponents on ground is neither here nor there. So far, a number of ODM aspirants who were preparing to face them at the nominations have expressed their strong reservations.
For nominated ODM senator Elizabeth Ongoro, she would mobilize her supporters who stormed the Orange House. Executive Director Oduor Ong’wen, who replaced Langat Magerer, was their main target. They grabbed and roughed him in front of camera. The situation would normalize after the police intervened and fired two shots in the air.
While referring to him as one of the political mercenaries based at Orange House, Ongoro accused Oduor of having hatched a plot to block her from contesting the Ruaraka parliamentary seat. My loyalty to Raila is beyond reproach. I have a right to participate in the nomination.
The supporters complained the nomination certificate has already been given to her rival, incumbent TJ Kajwang. We know money changed hands. Some would allege. Oduor received a Sh1 million bribe and another official received Sh500, 000. A few days earlier, a similar violence was witnessed in Migori town. The area governor Obado had complained of being unfairly targeted by key allies of Raila. Mombasa governor Hassan Joho was among those caught up in the melee when rival supporters clashed.
Joseph Mutua Ndonga is a Political Analyst and Blogger