Opinion

ODM, break the neck of this autocracy

Editorial

It is worrying that Kajiado County has become the epicenter of an ignoble trend that threatens to stifle democracy in Kenya: The rise of a fascist ideology that manifests itself in an outright contempt of the people’s opinion and their right to elect their own leaders.

This unfortunate trend has become most obvious in party politics, and especially within the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). Because this party is one of the key contenders to power in the coming August 9 general election, it is a matter of concern to all citizens when it moves in any measure towards an authoritarian apartheid that seeks to deny others their democratic rights. If not nipped in the bud, such a dangerous precedent could herald greater dangers to come should the party clinch the instruments of power at county or national level.

Indeed, many Kajiado residents and ODM aspirants have been left perplexed by the actions and utterances of Innocent Katoo, the chairman of ODM in Kajiado County. His actions reflect a growing trend in the party in other parts of the country, notably Homa Bay, where it is said that the party has run roughshod over its members by giving direct nominations.

That disease cannot be allowed to spread to Kajiado and elsewhere, unless the party has a death wish. Kajiado is a highly competitive and cosmopolitan polity where the wishes of one man cannot easily be imposed upon the masses.

Of course, it is not our business if the party decides to proceed with this treacherous path and dig its own political graveyard. However, we have a duty in the public interest to discourage and expose all forms of dishonesty in the management of political processes. Katoo’s actions deserve sanction for the not-so-subtle attempts to dethrone the will of party members.

Indeed, on his Facebook page, the ODM county chairman overreached himself when he published a list of persons who will purportedly vie on the party’s parliamentary tickets. Coming days to the nomination exercise, this behaviour puts to question the party’s commitment to its own constitution and the democratic ideals it purports to hold. The arrogant attitude displayed in the chairman’s post did not escape critics, with Katoo signing off by stating, “Stop disturbing me or go to NEB [National Elections Board].”

It is notable that the various contestants had taken the trouble to pay party fees and to mobilise their supporters. It smacks of conmanship and bad faith for an official of the party to take it upon himself to decide who gets the party ticket. In a functioning democratic setup, such reprehensible behaviour would attract the wrath of the party at the higher echelons because it risks making the party unpopular and sabotaging its chances of success at the polls.

The people of Kajiado are watching all the parties keenly. They refuse to be boxed into a corner by any political formation. Let ODM and all other political parties be forewarned of the consequences of ignoring internal party democracy. The floodgates of competition must be swung open throughout the county.

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