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ODM to create more national party slots in bid to stamp-out fallout

POLITICS
By STEPHEN MAKABILA and OSCAR OBONYO | February 16th 2014

By STEPHEN MAKABILA and OSCAR OBONYO

ODM is now set to create five more national positions as Party leader Raila Odinga steps-ups consensus efforts ahead of the National Delegates Conference (NDC) to cushion it from post-election split.

The Standard on Sunday has reliably learnt the party will now have two deputy party leaders, four Vice-chairmen and two organising Secretaries, pushing the number of slots up for grabs from the current 26 to 31.

On February 28, about 2,854 ODM delegates will congregate at Kasarani to elect ODM national  officials at the NDC, and with the on-going consensus building, it may either be an occasion to ratify a general consensus list or an all out contest if consultations fail to bear fruits.

The increase in national slots, The Standard on Sunday has established, is meant to take care of regional balance, gender equity and ease growing tension between the two distinct rival groups battling for positions come the NDC.

A technical team has been set up by the party to stem the ongoing fractious campaigns with a view to containing all candidates within the giant party.

An MP, who is a member of the team but who declined to be named owing to the sensitivity of the development, confided in The Standard On Sunday that the team is destined to design “new leadership structures that will take into account regional and gender balance”

According to our sources, the technical team which is comprised of current officials of the party secretariat and a team of lawyers, has proposed two positions of Deputy Party Leader, one in charge of strategy and finances and the other in charge of operations and resource mobilization. And already names of Kakamega County Governor Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya and his Mombasa counterpart Hassan Joho are being floated for the two slots – Oparanya for finance and Joho for operations.  

Monitoring and evaluation     

Besides the deputy party leader slots, the current technical team also proposes four vice chairman slots, one of which must be occupied by a female party member. Homa Bay County senator Otieno Kajwang’ and Eldas MP Adan Keynan are front runners for the other slots, while Turkana County Governor, Josephat Nanok has reportedly been approached, in the ongoing consensus effort, to drop his bid for chairmanship and instead take up one of the four vice-chair positions. 

 The team also proposes that ODM should have two holders of the office of National Organising Secretary – one in charge of field programmes and the other responsible for monitoring and evaluation. Here, former Nairobi Mayor George Aladwa and Balambala MP Abdikadir Omar Aden are considered front-runners of the two seats.

 According to our sources, once the expanded list is ready and the regional and gender balancing act completed to satisfaction, lawyers in the team will craft the necessary amendments to the Orange party constitution, ready for ratification by the National Executive Council (NEC) before the NDC.

 In the ongoing campaigns that have now gained momentum,  one of the main competing groups revolve around nominated Senator Agnes Zani from the Coast region who is going for Secretary-General position, and  who some believe is Raila’s preferred candidate.

 The other group revolve around Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba from the former Western province, also gunning for Secretary General position.

 Plans for the NDC have been finalised, and on Wednesday the ODM National Elections Board chaired by Judith Pareno toured the Ksarani venue for inspection purposes.

But a member of the election board also hinted to the on-going consensus efforts after noting the board was not sure of how regional balance and gender equity will be arrived at, if the process remains competitive to the end.

“We hope delegates will see reason in consensus to ensure all regions are represented and the one third gender equity provision honoured,” a member of the board told The Standard on Sunday.

The board which has hired over 100 polling and counting clerks has indicated voting will be by secret ballot and that transparent ballot boxes will be used.

Raila on Friday night is reported to have met Namwamba for talks in Kisumu, but details of their meeting remained scant, with those reported to have been present remaining tight-lipped.

“What I can confirm is that the two leaders met for one hour of Friday night for private talks, but details remain scanty,” a source privy to the meeting told The Standard on Sunday.

Quelling the storm

Earlier in the week, Raila had also met MPs from the Coast region, to try and quell the latest storm in the opposition coalition.

 The meeting came after they warned CORD of dire political consequences should Kilifi North MP Gideon Mung’aro be stripped of his position as Minority Chief Whip.

Its understood the former PM promised to go slow on the issue, prompting the MPs’ change of heart to support Zani, viewed to enjoy Raila’s support.

Raila had also within the week held talks with MPs Oburu Odinga, Nicholas Gumbo and John Mbadi, in what many see Mbadi’s shift of support and is now being touted to get the Deputy Secretary General’s position.

“We want to encourage fellow party members to embrace the spirit of dialogue and consensus building as we approach the party elections in order to safeguard party unity,” they said in a statement read by Mbadi, the Suba MP.

When The Standard on Sunday reached Namwamba who was in Kisumu yesterday, he maintained he would go all the way to the ballot and that he was sure of winning 85 per cent of the delegates’ votes.

 “I have done my campaigns well so far in Coast, lower Eastern, Western and now Nyanza. Sunday I will be in North Rift (Eldoret) and on Monday Western and Trans Nzoia. If delegates are genuine, then I am sure of winning with an 85 per cent of the votes come February 28,” Namwamba told our team.

Asked about the consensus building, Namwamba said regional balancing was critical but it should never be at the expense of democracy.


 

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