8 February 2013

Kenya: Why Chaos Marred Party Nominations


Now that the dust has relatively settled on the chaotic Kenyan primaries for the three leading coalition parties, maybe it is time to discuss what transpired in some of the chaotic spots and debunk some of the lies and rumors that the political class peddled around.

Considering that Luo Nyanza, Nyeri and Upper Rift led in electoral malpractices resulting in no voting or non-vote counting where some semblance of voting took place, it would be imperative to second-guess who stood to gain in this seemingly planned chaotic situation.

I will in this scenario pay more attention to Kisumu County since I have some numbers to support my arguments. I know we had similar situations in Homa Bay, Karachuonyo, Migori, Mbita, Othaya, Kajiado, Eldoret and parts of Coast region however, data gathered during the voting in Kisumu County shed some light on what might have happened many months before the voting day.

First, neighboring constituencies such as Nyando and Muhoroni experienced unprecedented ballot paper shortage things seemed to have worked differently for Nyakach constituency with actual voting taking place in at least 65 ballot stations, no voting seemed to have taken place in Nyando and Muhoroni constituencies on day one. Three days later, voting took place in Nyando in 77 polling stations.

Second, clustered constituencies such as Kisumu East, Kisumu West, Kisumu Central and Seme were not spared either. The senatorial voting pattern was intriguing to say the least. A glaring example of this discrepancy is the fact that even though the Minister for Medical Services, Prof. Anyang' Nyongo comes from Seme, he garnered no votes there and neither were the polling stations listed the way they were listed in Nyakach and Nyaqndo.

Talking to some sources on the ground then, it would appear like there were two groups, one consisting of sitting MPs and the other composed of first time aspirants. Whereas the sitting MPs used every trick in the book to delay, divert or destroy ballot papers before they reached their destinations, first timers were more concerned with putting security structures to secure their votes once the votes were in.

However, once the incumbents realized that their old tricks of bribing voters or causing chaos at polling stations would not work, they chose to deal with ballot paper handlers at the source in Nairobi. This is the reason Nyando and Muhoroni ballot papers could be located in Kapsabet, Eldoret and other parts of Rift Valley on the morning of the voting day.

What was equally baffling was that even when these ballot papers were discovered in Rift Valley, very little effort was made by anybody to redirect them to their respective constituencies even as poor voters were lining up in the scotching sun waiting to exercise their rights. Ballot papers finally arrived in Nyando and Muhoroni three days after the election date!

Prior to the primaries in Kisumu County, political campaigns were lackluster. The only meaningful campaigns with visibility were carried out by Prof. Anyang' Nyongo' who launched his campaign in Kisumu as early as September 2012 to be followed by Otieno Odongo and Ochola Ogoda, all aspiring for the senate seat.

However, one cannot ignore the spirited campaign put up by governor aspirants with occasional lively television debates starring Mzee Ojwang' K'Ombudo, former cabinet minister and MP for Nyakach, former KRA Commissioner Jack Ranguma, Specter International CEO, Adhiambo Odinga, Atieno Otieno, Obadhaaono, Prof Kariaga and PC Owino Omollo.

One candidate that was neither a governor aspirant nor a senator material but established her presence in Kisumu very early was Mrs. Rosa Buyu who campaigned against Olago Aluoch in 2007 but lost under mysterious circumstances. Because Rosa was on the ground just like Prof. Nyongo', Jack Ranguma and Adhiambo Odinga, she eventually reaped her dividends when the people of Kisumu rewarded her with the ODM ticket.

Otieno Odongo's case was equally intriguing. He seemed not to have convinced Nyando, his home constituency that he was a worthy senate material.

Part of Odongo's problem was that even though he launched his campaign in Nyando as early as November 2010, he kept on blowing hot and cold, giving the impression that he was never a serious candidate.

Finally, when the votes were counted where it was possible to vote, Prof. Nyongo' led in Nyakach with 16,014 votes against his rivals Otieno Odongo's 2009 votes with Ochola Ogoda coming third with 1048 votes in the same constituency.

The 77 polling stations that registered voters in Nyando gave Prof. Nyongo' 13448 votes against Otieno Odongo's 3551 votes with Ochola Ogoda coming third with 2059 votes.

In Kisumu West, Nyongo' received votes in 14 stations but no vote was tallied there while votes in Kisumu East were destroyed.

This level of incompetence can only be blamed on the ODM National Election Board under Franklin Bett and his board.

This scenario has set the stage for a vicious round two of the campaign for March 4 elections considering that many losers have decamped to other parties, a new phenomenon in Nyanza politics. The question to ask is this; is Nyanza ready to elect individuals rather than party candidates? I don't think so. Defectors will obviously be buried by the impending avalanche!

Copyright © 2013 The Star. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.