Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is putting its house in order in readiness for the 2022 General Election.
Already, the Raila Odinga-led party has overhauled its National Elections Board (NEB) and Electoral Disciplinary Committee. It is also finalising plans to hold grassroots elections and mount a countrywide drive to recruit new members.
On Friday, the Orange party’s 47 county chairpersons committee who constitute the county coordinating committee, met in Nairobi to agree on logistical and other preparations needed to make the exercise a success.
“We have resolved to go back to our regions to prepare for elections. This will allow our supporters to participate in the envisaged reforms through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and vote for our leader to make the next government in 2022,” said Makadara MP, George Aladwa, who chairs the committee.
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The party hopes that free and fair grassroots elections will reverse the steep fall in membership in its future party nominations.
The party has also resolved to allow back members who had quit after feeling shortchanged in nominations. Raila has on two occasions recently welcomed back politicians who had quit the party during the 2017 General Election. They include those who had sought the party’s ticket for Member of County Assembly (MCA), MP, Women Rep, Senate and gubernatorial seats.
With barely 22 months to the next elections, the party is keen to avoid a repeat of shambolic primaries that saw several members defect to vie as independent candidates or join Jubilee or smaller parties.
ODM chairman John Mbadi said they are reorganising the party’s electoral system to win members’ confidence in readiness for primaries, which have been a thorn in the party’s flesh in the past.
“We want to put our house in order partly by injecting professionalism into our electoral process,” said Mr Mbadi.
The reforms will give Orange party members freedom to shape their future by taking immediate control of money and party calendar activities and programmes.
Sources said that at the moment, ODM top organs are working on the party’s election timetable, which includes planning calendar activities expected to run from next month through to 2022 elections.
Apart from overhauling NEB, which is charged with overseeing party primaries each General Election cycle, ODM is also exploring qualification threshold for aspirants.
“The party’s top organ is of the opinion that they up the game by only allowing those with bachelor’s degree in any discipline to vie for elective posts such as MP, senators and governors,” Mbadi said.
The higher level of education could also be extended to those who intend to vie for the position of MCA to attract a high calibre of professionals at the county assemblies.
“Some people support setting the qualifications thresholds to raise the bar for our members, but others want the levels capped at diploma for ward reps position,” Mbadi said.
He said the envisaged reforms were necessary, but promised that the party seek the opinion of its members adopting the proposed changes. He said the party was also reviewing its nomination fees for governor, senator, MP, ward rep positions.
In the 2017, the party’s nomination fee for presidential candidates was Sh1 million, gubernatorial candidates paid Sh500,000, whereas senatorial and MP posts attracted Sh250,000.
Ward reps paid Sh25,000 while those classified under special interest groups, including the disabled, women and youth, paid Sh15,000.
Mbadi said those figures could be reviewed upwards or downwards, depending on the prevailing circumstances.
The party has since named Catherine Mumma as the NEB chairperson for five years.
She took over from from nominated Senator Judith Pareno. Other members of the board include Abdulahi Diriye, Richard Tairo, Syntei Nchoe and Emily Awita.
Prof Mumma had previously chaired the task force which looked into issues that marred ODM nominations and led to some of its members decamping.
The Mumma committee recommended a radical surgery, which Raila implemented a week ago as he appointed a new NEB to oversee party polls.
The Mumma report faulted past NEB officials, accusing them of being in the business of deliberately staging chaotic and violent elections to facilitate favourites to end up as ODM nominees for elections.
The report suggested that ODM should consider an objective formula to ensure it nominates the strongest candidates, who meet all requirements for nomination for every elective position.
ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna appealed to members to bear with the party hierarchy as it institutes the reforms.