Cord leader Raila Odinga’s ODM party plans to clean up its nominations act.
The party — dogged by chaotic nominations of dubious fairness — aims to hold major nominations in its strongholds six months before the general election on August 8, 2017.
This means the party would pick candidates for governors, MCAs, MPs and senators in February, on different dates on ODM turf.
There will be no direct nominations, no tickets handed to friends or disgruntled defectors. ODM pledges to abide by opinion-popularity polls and members’ votes before naming candidates to ensure grassroots support.
Previously nominations were all held on the same day. They were typically disrupted, marked by violence and claims of rigging. This was partly due to lack of capacity in the absence of the electoral agency to supervise.
These shambolic nominations cost Raila presidential votes and forced popular candidates to ditch ODM and win on other tickets.
The nominations reform is part of the sweeping strategic plan for 2016-18 that includes numerous structural reforms.
The Orange party has also reorganised directorates at the national secretariat, increasing them from seven to 11. Other reforms are in the offing.
The party is part of Cord Coalition, alongside former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Movement and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya.
If approved and implemented, the plan will mark a sea change in ODM nominations, in the past a protracted process approaching the election date itself.
In the past, the general thinking had been to accommodate as many disgruntled elements from rival parties as possible — who may have been rigged out of their own party tickets.
The party will commission opinion polls in each area, then hold mini-polls in which party members vote. The ticket goes to the most popular person.
The second batch of nominations will be held three months before the election in areas where the party is neither too strong nor too weak.
Here the party will vet all candidates, conduct opinion polls and put the candidate sup to a vote. The most popular gets the nomination.
Raila has told ODM leaders they must ensure nominations are free, fair, transparent and peaceful. Only the most popular candidates are to get tickets.
ODM CEO Oduor Ong’wen says changes in party structures and processes have been underway since last year, aimed at ensuring ODM remains the party determined to adhere to the law, its election rules and procedures.
“We have concluded development of the strategic plan that offers new architecture to carry out our mandate as a party. If adopted and implemented, it will put us in good standing to favourably compete,” Ong’wen told the Star yesterday.
The plan has been created by experts, the NEC and staff.
The NEC was to approve the plan last week but it was rescheduled to this week because business, finalising the list of IEBC committee members “and dealing with discontent issues,” Ong’wen said.
Internal reorganization is creating creates new directorates including gender, youth, research and policy, legal affairs and parliamentary liaison.Positions are to be filled by late September.
Previously, the party has had fewer directorates: finance and administration, operations, communication, political affairs, recruitment, outreach and resource mobilisation.
ODM plans to unveil its new national elections board by next week, following removal of old members. It aims to ensure credible nominations and deal with perpetrators of violence that has marred previous exercises.
“After being denied victory twice in the previous elections, the Orange party is ready to face competitors in whatever form,” Ong’wen said.
A monitoring and evaluation mechanism is to ensure it achieves its goals, including prudent spending, no waste and getting value for money.
The party plans to adopt a new human resource policy to guide hiring of qualified people, welfare of secretariat staff and expansion of physical facilities. Buildings will be acquired within Nairobi and in counties.
Raila ran unsuccessfully for President in 1997, 2007 and 2013.
The Cord leader is to launch a rebranding campaign for his fourth stab at the presidency.
Central to the planning is the hiring of two renowned media consultants to manage the Cord presidential secretariat, poorly managed in 2013.
The ODM party’s secretariat, Orange house and Capitol Hill center housing the Cord secretariat, will also undergo major facelifts and get new staff, communications equipment and furnishings.
Raila is said to have acquired a strategic multi-million-shilling building in Lavington to meet high ranking guests. Major renovation is underway.
Other buildings have been acquired in Upper Hill near Don Bosco Catholic church.
“You haven’t seen anything yet! Things are going to change for the better. It wont be business as usual,” said an inner circle source.
Raila is also said to have ordered for 12 state-of-the- art Toyota Land Cruisers, V8,200 series, for campaigning. They are said to cost Sh20 million each and will be used by Cord co-principals.
“They are undergoing installations of modern communication equipment, internet, video and other facilities so they can monitor activities throughout the country, and address rallies and press conferences,” the source said.
They should hit the road in late October for testing before the campaigns.