It's a sham, UDA members and contestants say of party primaries

A UDA member votes at Homa Bay Primary School during the party's grassroots elections on April 26, 2024. [James Omoro, Standard]

The reputation of the ruling party United Democratic Alliance (UDA) has been cast in doubt following what members describe as a flawed internal party poll.

Participants described the just concluded grassroot elections as a sham, and have put in doubt the legitimacy of the election results due to discrepancies of missing names of voters and aspirants.

Some of the aspirants and leaders whose names were not recognised included Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja, who was vying for the Nairobi County UDA chairmanship, Dagorreti South MP John Kiarie and other aspirants for the ward and constituency congress.

They included Embakasi South youth representative aspirants Stacy Nyambura, Masaki Samwel, Embakasi South chairman aspirant Wycliff Mirina, and Henry Songo, an aspirant from West Pokot among others who did not vote due to technological hitches.

The puzzle mutated to a convolution when some of the aspirants who were blocked from voting as their names were not identified by the gadgets emerged as winners, questioning how that was possible.

Catherine Mwangi, an aspirant, wondered how her name was not captured by the gadgets but yet she was declared the winner, a move that made her question the authenticity of the whole exercise.

“We demand answers because despite attempting to vote, the system failed to recognise my biometrics. Yet, I was declared a winner later. How is this possible?” she said.

Mr Mirina called for a repeat election and watered down the whole exercise claiming it was a shambolic exercise whose results didn’t portray the will of the UDA party members.

“What we want is a free and fair election. There were no elections at Embakasi South, we can tell you for sure that what happened yesterday is that something was planned somewhere at somebody’s house,” He said,

In Narok County, controversy emerged regarding the winner between Governor Patrick Ole Ntutu and his rival Narok West MP Gabriel Ole Tongoyo as both claimed victory.

Tongonyo accused his “competitors from the other side” of engaging in gross misconduct saying there was a situation where they ran away with the gadgets and went and voted in cars. Other reported cases that caused confusion and mistrust included the violence cases reported in West Pokot and the theft of election materials reported in Narok.

Party Secretary General Cleophas Malala urged all concerned and affected parties to officially submit their complaints to the party via email by Sunday.

“We call upon all the aggrieved parties to file their complaints within 48 hours and the complaint will be addressed within seven working days,” Malala said.

The Standard has however learnt that the party officials will be meeting to discuss the possibilities of conducting a repeat poll in some of the adversely affected areas in a move to restore the confidence in the party membership.

“We will be meeting to map areas that there is a general feeling of discontent over the grassroot elections with a view of repeating the polls,’ a UDA official who did not want to be quoted said.

But despite the jitters in Nairobi, a section of leaders that supports Embakasi North MP James Gakuya, who is vying against Sakaja, has taken to celebrate an early win claiming Gakuya has garnered 70 per cent of the seats that were up for grabs in the grassroot elections.

Former nominated senator Millicent Omanga, who is among the leaders who have been mobilising support for Gakuya, took to her social pages to celebrate, writing: “Congratulations Team James Mwangi Gakuya aka Bazenga. You’ve won 70 per cent of the positions at the polling stations today. A clear indication that Nairobi UDA Chairman is none other than Hon Gakuya BAZUU.’

During the Friday elections, 20 officials elected for the seven positions which included three religious group representatives, four professional representatives, three farmers’ representatives, one member representing the Special Interests Groups (SIG) four youth representatives, three representatives of medium and small enterprises and two members representing gender would elect amongst themselves the Ward congress, Constituency and County congress and that explained why the grassroot election was a hotly contested race.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, who is said to be supporting Gakuya for the Nairobi chairmanship, dismissed the critics who have questioned his involvement in Nairobi county affairs.

“We have homes and families here. If Nairobi is not thriving, we will not be happy. So nobody should question our interest in Nairobi because this is the capital city. We will continue working together with the county,” the second in command said while speaking during a function in Langata yesterday.

“Nairobi is too important to be ignored, together with President William Ruto we have agreed to take a keen interest in Nairobi and we will help restore her glory. We are not doing this just because we have voters in the city but we are also stakeholders,” Rigathi said.