Rigged party primaries and poor dispute resolution mechanism are the bane of ODM’s performance in general elections, a task force report handed to top party organs last month reveals.
The report of the five-member team tasked with undertaking an “honest review” and obtained by Saturday Standard turns out a harsh verdict - poking holes into the compilation of the party list and the dispute resolution mechanism among other concerns.
The team comprised Catherine Mumma, Lawrence Gumbe, Alfelt Mumbo, Abio Gunda and Embakasi South parliamentary hopeful Irshad Sumra. They fell short of declaring ODM party primaries a sham. “The greatest vice of ODM is the rigged electoral system for conducting the party primaries,” said one interviewee as quoted in the report. “It is felt that the party supports anyone during the primaries so long as such persons pay to be party candidates.”
In the last polls, Jakoyo Midiwo, Nicholas Gumbo, Paul Otuoma, Thomas Mwadegu, John Mruttu and MPs Mohammed Ali (Nyali) and Shakeel Shabir (Kisumu East) ditched the party and contested as independent candidates.
The report, tabled at the National Delegates Conference (NDC) chaired by party leader Raila Odinga, accused the National Elections Board (NEB) of not having clear guidelines for aspirants and no credible party membership list, forcing NEB to use the 2013 Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) voters’ register. There were financial improprieties as the team found that NEB was given a Sh250 million budget to carry out an exercise that the IEBC conducts with Sh50 billion.
Mumma’s team also pointed out that members of Internal Dispute Resolution Mechanism (IDRM) lamented over lack of clarity on how they would operate, the manner in which they were set up and were poorly resourced to address an inevitably bureaucratic process in a very short time window.
The report adds that the IDRM, namely the National Appeals Tribunal (NAT) and County Appeals Tribunal (CAT) received equally short shrift from the consumers of their services.
“Their decisions were ignored, making them wonder why they were set up in the first place. The practical reality facing IDRM is there is little or no time to enforce election nullification and a repeat of elections,” reads the report. “The party resorted to using direct nominations following the determination of NAT and CAT given the lack of adequate time. It was not taken kindly by candidates.”
In addition, the report’s stinging revelation indicates that the party had weak nomination rules and did not meet the requirements of the IEBC. A lot of interviewees complained about the party list nomination process which they felt was grossly flawed and ended up as an exercise for sharing slots among members of the sub-committee that was entrusted with this list.
In the view of interviewees, some of those who were nominated are not members of the party and belong to other parties. Some said loyal party members always lose out on the nominations. It was reported that some members have now left the party because of this.
“The nomination of relatives and friends of the nominating committee members and relatives of members of the secretariat was not taken kindly by most interviewees,” reads the report.
The report noted that the party members feel that the Oduor Ong’wen led National Secretariat is detached from the grassroots and only communicates when they want to mobilise for rallies during elections and occasionally have very few activities at the grassroots in very few regions.
And to crown it, the report notes that there seems to be a lack of cohesion at the national secretariat, with some members feeling that they exist to add to statistics but they are not involved in decision making and their departments are not resourced to carry out their mandates. “The secretariat appears ‘divorced’ and detached from the grassroots party membership, because it lacks a cascaded reporting structure to build its knowledge base. There seems to be no planned budget and programmes for members or the national secretariat has neglected to appraise its members of such budget and programmes,” reads the report.
“The biggest concern with ODM is the failure to respect its own constitution and regulations. The party structures are clear and well defined from the grassroots to the top, but the implementation of the constitution and the functionality of the structures, particularly at the grassroots is wanting.”
The team recommended that: “Any person wishing to be nominated as an ODM candidate for any elective seat must have been a member of the party for at least three years before the date of the general election for which they plan to run for public office.”