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Jubilee drops plan to use smart cards in party nominations

By Geoffrey Mosoku | March 18th 2017
Nairobi Women Representative Rachel Shebesh meets her supporters at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi on March 17,2017 where she said that she will defend her seat on Jubilee ticket. Photo by WILLIS AWANDU

Jubilee Party has now shelved plans to use the much-touted smart card in its forthcoming party primaries.

The party appears to have succumbed to pressure from members to drop the system and instead use national identity cards.

Yesterday, JP officials clarified that the use of the smart cards, which were launched in January, was only meant for party membership recruitment and not necessarily for nominations.

JP head of secretariat Raphael Tuju said that the sole intention of the smart card was to ensure as many members as possible are recruited.

“I do not want to pre-empt exactly how the nominations will be carried out since the national elections board (NEB) will come out to make an announcement soon,” Tuju said yesterday.

The party said the move was necessary because there was no guarantee that those recruited using smart cards would vote in the primaries.  Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe said the main objective is to have as many card-carrying members of the party.

“When you go into the polling centre, you will find an IEBC and a Jubilee register. You have to be on the party register, which you have to counter check with the IEBC register to confirm if you are listed in that particular centre, for you to be allowed to participate in the primaries,” said Murathe.

The announcement comes at a time when there have been complaints that some politicians have been buying a large number of membership cards which they then distribute  in areas where they have overwhelming support in anticipation that they will get more votes in these regions during next month’s nominations.

Others were said to be storing these cards  with the intention to distribute them just before the primaries. “Those people who will not file returns on time will not participate in the nominations,” Murathe warned those hoarding the cards.

The move to use the cards in party primaries had been vehemently opposed by most Jubilee aspirants. The feeling was that if they are used, the contest could be tilted in favour of those who purchased many cards. Among those who were not comfortable with the use of smart cards in party primaries include sitting governors and MPs who fear that party’s top leadership may corrupt the card issuance process in favour of their rivals.

The decision to dump the smart cards comes amid revelations that a top party operative has been importing and selling these cards. The operative could now make huge losses if the remaining cards are not bought out once it becomes apparent they are of no use in the party primaries.

Similarly thrown in limbo are River Road merchants who had devised fraudulent production of replica JP cards. The River Road cards are indistinguishable from the genuine ones, but lack key features. Those who bought the fake cards and sent details through mobile phones to activate their membership were not able to get any acknowledgment SMS like their genuine counterparts.

To activate their smart cards and validate their membership, members were asked to send a text message with the word “accept” to the short code 30553 to Jubilee’s database at the headquarters in Nairobi’s Pangani area.

The sale of smart cards to Jubilee supporters raised a significant for party.

At the beginning of this week, the party had raked in Sh140 million from the sale of seven million cards at Sh20 each. The figure was expected to rise to Sh200 million once the first batch of 10 million cards were sold.

The unique smart membership card contains a member’s name, identity number, mobile phone number and voting details such as polling station.

The party has stepped up preparations for the primaries and on Monday JP  unveiled a nine-member election board to “deliver free and fair nominations.”

Lawyer PG Wanyonyi  is chairing the team.

Other members are Vesca Kandago (vice chairperson), Samuel Nyangeso (a former chairman of the Kenya Library Service), Rev Samuel Kobia (a former National Council of Churches of Kenya secretary general) and former commissioner general of the Kenya Revenue Authority Michael Waweru. Also in the team to steer the Jubilee nominations are Aden Noor Ali, Leah Ntimama,  Carolyne Kamende and Abdalla Khamisi.

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