The naming of Moses Kajwang’ as the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) flag-bearer in the Homa Bay by-election has sparked outrage among leaders and residents.
Homa Bay leaders and some aspirants described the Orange party’s decision as blackmail and an affront to the county’s people.
They condemned the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) made up of the party leadership and National Elections Board (NEB).
Philip Okundi said the NEB decision amounted to favouritism.
“NEB had enough time to come up with the candidate based on the criteria agreed on by the aspirants but what it has done is awful. Some of us had invested heavily in the campaigns and it is not fair that we have been abandoned,” Mr Okundi said.
The former Rangwe MP noted that by confirming Kajwang’, NEB demonstrated that it was partisan and did not respect the will of Homa Bay voters.
He wondered why NEB wasted time interviewing the aspirants when they knew they would give the ticket to Kajwang’.
“I entered this cause based on strong personal convictions to serve the people of Homa Bay County and the Republic of Kenya but ODM has messed me up,” Okundi said.
Kenneth Kambona wondered how NEB arrived at the decision.
“All the aspirants were opposed to direct nomination by the board but after many meetings we agreed to direct nomination on three principles,” Dr Kambona said.
He said the aspirants were to be vetted depending on their loyalty and financial support to the party.
“We also agreed that NEB would hold a survey to establish the most popular aspirant. Then all seven of us were told to pay Sh250,000 as nomination fees,” Kambona said.
“I question the board’s wisdom in coming up with Kajwang’ based on the criteria we agreed on. Kajwang’ has only been with the party for three weeks. I have supported the party financially and even offered my car to be used in the campaigns for Raila Odinga’s presidency. We feel cheated,” he added.
Former Raila aide Silas Jakakimba expressed dismay with the NEB decision. In a letter seen by The Standard, he said he had quit ODM and thanked the party leader for the opportunity to serve ODM.
“?I am still ready and I will give a firm response and requisite direction to my supporters on or before December 27,” Jakakimba said.
“We all believed Homa Bay residents would have that cardinal opportunity to have a say in this process, but this was not possible due to reasons that were well explained by the board,” he added.
ODM Homa Bay Branch Vice Chairman Ong’ondo Were said the party had let down the people and would regret its decision.
“Kajwang’ is naive in politics. He has never been involved in any political contest. Our people are going to rebel against the party by voting for an independent candidate,” Were charged.
But Kajwang’ said he was ready to carry ODM’s flag to the by-election, adding that the party saw his ability to represent Homa Bay at the Senate.
“I thank ODM for trusting my ability to articulate the interests of devolution. I am confident about delivering the vote and I am a 100 per cent sure that ODM will retain this seat,” Kajwang’ said.
Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma supported the decision to give Kajwang’ the ticket.
“The decision upholds the pre-election agreement that saw the county seats equitably shared across the three regional blocks. Philip Okundi and others from regions other than the Mbita Suba region were not given the party’s certificate on account of this consideration,” Mr Kaluma said.
“In Mbita-Suba region, our brothers Caroli Omondi and George Yoga, both from Suba, were eliminated to effect a fair spread of ODM in the region. The region would have appeared to others to have been over-favoured considering the ODM national chair also comes from there,” he added.
The MP said it was easy to choose between Fred Rabongo and Moses Kajwang’.