Direct party tickets kill democracy and people’s aspirations

No one is saying that candidates should not be given direct nomination, but the criteria should be satisfactory. [iStock]

If there are counties that have gotten a raw deal of devolution, Homa Bay County should rankly highly as we complete a decade of the new system of governance. A quick chat with most Homa Bay residents usually point out to some party influenced emasculation of their political rights.

Now, Homa Bay just like in most counties in Nyanza where ODM is the dominant party, the election usually ends at the party primaries. Whoever clinches the party ticket, usually has one leg in and only awaits confirmation at the ballot. For this reason, the ODM nominations are regarded as a very important step in the political expression of the people.

ODM Director of Elections Catherine Mumma consequently has on her shoulders the political future of majority of Nyanza leaders and residents. Far more than even the IEBC. That is why it is easy to understand the anger of former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero over a decision to directly nominate Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga.

No one is saying that candidates should not be given direct nomination, but the criteria should be satisfactory. The fact that Kidero is not at ease with the Wanga and Oyugi Magwanga handshake, means there was no consensus.

If all candidates agree to support one of them then that it is fine. The next criteria is an acceptable opinion poll. In places like Nyanza where a party ticket is a near assurance of a win, the results should be published widely and must satisfy elements of an accurate study. However, logically, if a candidate is already popular, confirming that in a free and fair nomination process shouldn’t be a tall order.

Otherwise, ODM party leader Raila Odinga is setting himself up for political backlash in an area where he enjoys political dominance. He had a taste of it in 2017 elections when Migori Governor Okoth Obado won the governor seat on little known PDP party. He got another setback in his backyard in Ugenya when David Ochieng won on Movement for Democracy and Growth party against ODM in the 2020 by-election.

If the banter online is anything to go by, he should prepare for more. The philosophy behind universal suffrage is to make political leaders accountable to the people. Any process that leaves out the people makes the process undemocratic.

The result is the elected would only be accountable to those they feel were responsible to their being in office.

Direct nomination is not only ODM’s bane, it is likely to be UDA and other dominant parties’ bane too. Just like in 2017, we are likely to have a longer list of independent candidates. In areas where residents feel the dominant parties are taking them for a ride, they should resist and choose independently.

-The writer is anchor at Radio Maisha