Crisis looms in Jubilee Party over use of smart cards during party primaries scheduled for April as some party aspirants claim it is a ploy to raise money for presidential campaigns.
Nyeri woman representative aspirant Rahab Wachira said use of the cards is only favourable to the incumbents and wealthy aspirants.
The party has already shipped in some 10 million cards and is selling each at Sh20.
The unique card will be used to access polling stations.
Some politicians such as the Murang’a County Governor Mwangi Wairia bought the cards for his supporters in efforts to have an upper hand during the primaries.
CALL TO USE IEBC’S LIST
Ms Wachira said the party should use the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) voters’ register to create a level playing ground for all politicians.
“There is possibility of aspirants in other parties to sponsor a weak candidate in Jubilee. They will buy the cards and dish out to party members to ensure the unpopular candidate gets Jubilee ticket ahead of general election. Such is likely to happen in metropolitan counties with swing vote like Nairobi, Nakuru and Mombasa,” Ms Wachira observed.
She noted that aspirants are ditching the Party for lack of confidence on modalities of conducting the primaries and fear of being locked out of the race after nominations.
“Jubilee has not demonstrated assurance that nominations will be free from rigging,” said Ms Wachira.
DEFECTIONS TO OTHER PARTIES
Tetu MP aspirant Martin Luther Wachira urged that use of cards is not favourable to the elderly and those without mobile phones.
He feared the primaries will be botched and defections to other parties such as DP, PNU, MCC and Narc-Kenya will continue to be rife mostly in the Mount Kenya region.
“The unique cards method is not for the poor or aspirants who have no money. The more cards a politician buys the higher the chances of him getting the Jubilee Party ticket,” said Mr Wachira.
He observed that in case the primaries will be unfair it will lead to low turnout in August elections and will affect Presidential vote.
“More parties should be allowed to participate in general election so that they all mobilize their supporters and thus lead to high turnout in general election,” he said.
Radio journalist and Kiambu woman representative aspirant Gathoni Muchomba also expressed discomfort with use of the smart cards.
Speaking on NTV’s Siasa show, Ms Muchomba stressed on use of the IEBC register instead of the cards.
Her sentiments were echoed by Laikipia North parliamentary seat hopeful Richard Leiyagu who said the polls agency register is highly credible.
He however said the tension among aspirants is because the system is new.
“New systems take time to be reliable and get accepted. In some parts of Laikipia North network is a challenge and therefore recruiting members is getting hitches,” he said.
MARRED BY IRREGULARITIES
The politicians said they are in the process of purchasing the cards though doubting they will be used.
Nyeri Senator Aspirant Wambugu Nyamu said he does not trust “the smart cards will lead to a credible exercise.”
He recalled that in 2013 political aspirants in The National Alliance (TNA) party bought cards to be used in primaries only for the exercise to be cancelled.
“There is history of TNA in Jubilee and most politicians are not fully committed to the party due to lack of confidence in its operations,” noted Mr Nyamu.
He stated that election of Jubilee Party officials in Nyeri County was marred by irregularities and aspirants’ complaints are yet to be addressed by the party secretariat.
He added that getting the President’s party ticket in Nyeri County is not assurance of clinching a seat as local electorates are known of resisting political waves.
“We want a credible election board and issues be ironed out first. The party officials in Nyeri were appointed by the incumbents. How again can aspirants be confident that the primaries will be free from favouritism?” he posed.