The Star (Nairobi)

1 March 2014

Kenya: Let the ODM Party Elections Be an Example of Transparency

editorial

To some people, Kenyan political party elections are not events of any real significance. It is assumed that 'arrangements have been made' behind the scenes, and that a pre-selected slate of candidates will sweep the polls in a euphoric wave.

Indeed it is hard to remember an internal party poll that has ever yielded any real surprises, despite all the drama that precedes the voting. Those who end up losing are generally assumed to be those who failed to read the signs as to 'which way the wind was blowing'.

But Kenya has changed greatly under the new constitution. And the old ways may no longer be the best way of going about the selection of party officials. A collection of the party leader's cronies and sycophants - carefully selected to reflect "regional balance" - may not be the most promising option this time round.

For one, political parties which achieve a certain threshold of parliamentary representation are entitled to public funding. Such funds should ideally be managed by people who have better credentials than just that of being a faithful supporter of the party leader.

Managerial competence is also required; now that political parties are required to have a certain minimum of party offices kept operational throughout the country between elections. The days when party offices were predictably opened just six months before an election, and promptly closed down after the general election are long gone.

All this argues for clean and transparent party elections, not only for ODM, but also for TNA, URP, and all the other big political parties.

The time has come for effective "grassroots democracy" to be a constant feature of Kenyan political life, not only at the national level, but just as much at the party polls level.

What is taking place this weekend, is not just the ODM party election.

It will hopefully be the first of a series of fair and transparent party polls, of the kind that Kenyans deserve under the new constitution.

Quote of the day: "You don't make peace with friends. You make it with very unsavory enemies." Yitzhak Rabin Israeli Prime Minister, born 03/01/1922 - 11/04/1995.

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