Money, power, controversy as UDA delegates elect new officials

Delegates during the inaugural UDA National Governing Council Meeting at Bomas Of Kenya, Nairobi. September 29th,2023 [Elvis Ogina,Standard]

As the ruling United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party holds constituency elections Friday ahead of the county elections on June 8, it has emerged that candidates are splashing millions on delegates who are being pampered in posh city hotels.

In a contest that is turning out to be a do-or-die affair for officials eyeing the county chairmanship in the five counties, Nairobi has become a battleground where governors have isolated their candidates in secluded places to insulate them from being compromised by MPs who are determined to oust them in the party polls.

Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries have also joined in the fray to have their cronies win the party positions to secure their political interests in the 2027 elections.

The Standard has learnt that delegates, who have the final say on the 143 contestants in the final counties, are smiling all the way to the bank.

Some delegates have already pocketed the down payment with clear instructions that after voting, they are required to take photos of the ballot paper before retreating back to the hotel to pick the balance.

But the party’s National Election Board (NEB) chairperson  Antony Mwaura told The Standard that the party is wielding the big stick on the errant big boys saying a Principal Secretary and a sitting governor are among 16 people who including MCAs who are to appear the party’s disciplinary committee.

They are accused of tampering with the grassroots polls and face dire consequences such as being deregistered from the party and losing their State jobs should they be found guilty.

“We have liaised with the party leader, President William Ruto who wants the process to be above board. If the PS is found guilty of engaging in violence during the Ward elections she will lose her State job because in the first place, she was not allowed to be near where the polling was being done due to the nature of her job,” Mwaura said.

The PS is said to have clashed with supporters of another Cabinet Secretary who is also seeking to control the outcome of the constituency elections due to future political aspirations. 

Mwaura explained that out of the 20 candidates who will be elected in every county, seven will form part of the National Delegates Conference (NDC) who will meet in November to vote for the party’s national leadership.

“In every county, seven out of the 20 officials will become the county’s chairperson, secretary, treasurer, organising secretary, representatives of people living with disabilities, women and youth and will automatically become members of the NDC which explains why the stake is high in the constituency elections,” he said.

The NEB chairperson admitted that there have been cases of bribery especially by sitting governors who attempted to influence the party’s secretariat that is expected to preside over the elections but when the party got wind of this they picked new faces who oversaw the ward elections.

 “The new people did not understand the terrain conducting the polls and this led to an insignificant number of petitions. In Narok North, some dissatisfied people got injunctions from the Political Parties Tribunal and stopped the elections and the case is ongoing," he said.

"In Busia we have struck out four candidates who were to contest for the constituency polls after they engaged in malpractice. A sitting MCA in West Pokot county had his name removed from the list of contestants and due to the transparency of the polls, a record of 15 MCAs did not get the positions they were contesting for,” he added.

In Nairobi, the contest is between Governor Johnson Sakaja and Embakasi North MP James Gakuya and three other candidates. Gakuya’s allies; MPs John Karie alias KJ (Dagoretti North) will face off with four candidates for constituency chairperson position while Benjmai Gathiru alias Major Donk will battle it out with three candidates.

In Narok, Narok West MP Gabriel Tongoyo will face off with Governor Patrick Ntutu for the county chairmanship while MPs Ken Aramat (Narok East) and Johanna Ng’eno (Emurr Dikkir) are battling for the county secretary general position where they are required to win in their constituencies to qualify for the county level position.

In West Pokot, Kapenguria MP Samuel Moroto will battle it out with Jackson Rotino and Mzelondo Plimo for the UDA county secretary position if the three succeed in constituency polls while Governor Simon Kachapin will face Senator Julius Murgor for the county UDA chairmanship seat.

Nairobi has 1,700 delegates from the 17 constituencies while Homa Bay has 800 from eight constituencies, Busia 700 from seven constituencies, Narok 600 from six constituencies and West Pokot 400 from four constituencies.

Phase two of the party polls for 13 counties is scheduled on June 27.

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