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Nominations: Storm clouds gather over UDA

Trouble is looming as the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) reaches the homestretch in its preparations for the party nominations exercise.

With only a day left to the nominations slated for April 14, voices of discontent have arisen alleging that the party machinery is quietly preparing to rig the vote in favour of one gubernatorial candidate and his line-up.

Two gubernatorial candidates seem oblivious of the party machinations taking place behind their backs. The campaign team for one of the contestants, however, has been actively expressing disaffection.

Our investigations have revealed that the discontent against apparent manoeuvres to favour the candidature of Kajiado South MP Katoo ole Metito is so strong that it is unlikely the losing candidates will back the winner if these concerns are not addressed expeditiously.

The root of the problem stems from the recruitment exercise for the poll officials to handle the party primaries, in which it is said that the recruitment ignored applicants and went for persons in favour of Katoo’s candidature.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, our sources intimated that to rectify the problem, it will be necessary to redeploy the presiding officers afresh, with each candidate being accorded a quarter of the number engaged for the exercise.

There were 394 polling stations in Kajiado County in 2017, which means that this number of presiding officers must be engaged during the gruelling party primaries.

Indeed, there are demands that even the polling clerks be engaged afresh, although this might be a more demanding exercise. A source who sought anonymity however clarified that it takes only 45 minutes to train a polling clerk.

Should the party choose to ignore the concerns of other contestants and allow the nominations to proceed with their current weaknesses, it will be highly likely that some of the aggrieved candidates will proceed with the contest as independent candidates. This will have the effect of splitting the party vote among various contestants, putting UDA at a disadvantage when facing their common enemy, the Azimio coalition.

The Kajiado Star newspaper has consistently advocated for the upholding of democratic ideals at all levels, including in party structures. The ongoing trend by political parties is worrying, whereby democracy is thwarted by those who feel the party belongs to them. This lack of internal party democracy by the major political parties will mean that whoever wins the General Election cannot be expected to insist on all citizens sticking to the rule of law, seeing as it will be that the party would have obtained power using crooked methods.

At first, it was the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) that created concern through purporting to give direct nomination tickets while sidestepping opposing voices. This time, it is the UDA party that is said to be slyly attempting to subvert the democratic party process. These are ominous signs of the lack of integrity by political parties and their supporters, who are all too ready to go to great lengths in their efforts to subvert party processes.

Political parties must not be allowed to plant the seed of impunity, whether contrary to their own processes or against other competing political formations. UDA must be ready to take quick action to salvage their party image. The party organs must go back to the drawing board.

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