Violent scenes characterised Jubilee Party elections across the country as the party sought to pick officials to lead it ahead of next year’s polls contrary to expectations that the exercise would be smooth.
Power struggles, bitter rivalry and clannism was evident as elections were held with parallel exercises being held in some counties, bringing out the deep underlying differences in a party that President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to use for his re-election.
However, in some counties, there was relative calm during the exercise where delegates held peaceful elections for interim office holders.
In Uasin-Gishu County, for instance, interim officials were picked amid complaints by some aspirants that the exercise was not free and fair.
Governor Jackson Mandago, however, downplayed the rift insisting that the exercise went on smoothly and asked the party’s national office to accept their list.
KICKS AND BLOWS
Nonetheless, violent scenes were witnessed during the elections with some delegates exchanging blows as they differed over the list of candidates. Some delegates accused local leaders of meddling in the exercise.
Some delegates accused senior politicians from the region of meddling in the exercise by sneaking in the names of their cronies.
Consequently, the exercise held at the Boma Inn hotel in Eldoret, was almost called off as a result of the fracas.
Returning Officer Albert Nemusi had a hectic time bringing the meeting to order.
“The interim officials have not been elected. Their duty will only be to oversee party issues at the grassroots as we set up structures,” he said.
“None of the interim officials will be aspirants in 2017 election to avoid conflict of interest,” he added.
Elsewhere in Mombasa, irate delegates in support of their preferred candidates disrupted the Mombasa County’s exercise claiming there was an ‘imposed’ leadership earlier picked at a hotel.
Trouble started after the arrival of former TNA secretary general Onyango Oloo at about 11am and called the ‘delegates’ to order at the Kenya School of Government but when he allowed questions from members ‘hell broke loose’.
Immediately Mr Oloo explained the requirements for the interim officials and allowed questions, matters turned ugly after some of those eyeing different position found themselves in a catch-22 situation for lack of registration fee receipts.
Efforts by Mr Oloo, who was the returning officer, to restore law and order fell on deaf ears as rowdy supporters of Ramadhan Mwatsahu went wild.
In the ensuing confusion, the mob frog-matched MR Oloo while chanting Mr Mwsatsahu’s name causing havoc at the institution breaking the dining hall’s glass door, table and chairs.
Sensing danger of more damages, security officers were ordered to kick out of the facility the disorderly delegates and whisked away Mr Oloo to safety.
Earlier, Mr Oloo had denied accusations that he had received a list of preferred officials for the county.
“Some 11 persons came to my hotel room but I declined to talk to them that is why I am here to ensure only those 19 elected officials’ names go to Nairobi,” he said.
But former Mombasa Mayor Ali Shekue questioned why those involved in the exercise did not seal off the venue before allowing people to access the government facility.
The front-runners in the contest were Ibrahim Khamis ‘Babangida’, Ramadhan Ali Mwatsahu, Anania Mwaboza and Suleiman Shahbal.
In Taita Taveta County, over 500 Jubilee Party supporters protested for not being allowed to elect their officials at Galaxy hotel in Voi sub-county.
Led by Coast Water Services Board director, Faustine Mgendi and Water and Irrigation board director Anna Kina, they accused tTaveta MP Naomi Shaaban of handpicking delegates.
“In the first place the delegates were handpicked and some of us were left out yet we have been supporting President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto even in the last elections,” said Ms Kina.
Mr Mghendi said he has been leading thousands of supporters in monthly party meetings to revive the party which had little support in the area which is an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) stronghold.
The Voi Sisal owner Zahid Din was elected as the Taita Taveta party chairperson. But when contacted, Dr Shaaban declined.
WAIGURU ALLY WINS
Former devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru’s ally was elected the Kirinyaga interim chairperson in polls held in Kutus.
The exercise took a record 30 minutes as selected people were allowed to read out on the agreed names as aspirants and the incumbents agreed on lists of officials a day before the elections.
Outspoken director of Ndima tea factory John Mithamo was thus declared the chairperson.
However there was disagreement on the list from the aspirants after it emerged that one of them was above 35 years contrary to the party’s constitution.
Jubilee party national member David Koech had to intervene by telling the aspirants to agree on another person.
The county governor Joseph Ndathi sat among other elected leaders. Ms Waiguru was present.
“We are here to tell you who to elect. We are here to build a strong party that will steer our president back to state house,” said Koech.
The clan factor became emotive in Wajir County as supporters disagreed on the criteria to be used on picking the officials.
Some had proposed that the officials be picked on the basis of Sub-counties while others preferred the officials to be picked based on clans.
The clan factor carried the day with the Degodia, the largest clan, being given eight positions, Arjuran and the Ogaden, five positions each while other tribes were given one slot after lengthy consultations.
Mr Muhumed Mohamud Dahiye was appointed the interim chairman while Wajir East MP Abbas Sheikh was elected the Jubilee point man in the county.
The final list was released after the various communities engaged in consultation to appoint their favourites.
“We have incorporated the balance between the culture of negotiations and the constitution. This is why we allowed the consultation among the various communities Our clan has a history of electing leaders through negotiations by the elders,” said Mr Isack Hassan, the Jubilee Party national representative.
The script was the same in Kitui County after the party’s supporters were informed that the earlier venue had been changed.
There were near chaos after the delegates were locked outside the venue at Kitui Hotel.
Onetime Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) Managing Director Caxton Munyoki was elected the interim Chairman in the exercise which was chaired by Ms Wanjiru Kariuki from Jubilee’s headquarters.
The irate supporters who claimed to be bona fide delegates of JP tried to force their way into the venue but were barred by armed police officers until the voting was over.
CAMPAIGN AGAINST JUBILEE
“How can we wake up so early in the morning to show our support for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election outfit only to be frustrated by few people guided by selfish interests,” they said.
They accused Mwingi Central MP Joe Mutambu and his Kitui South counterpart Rachael Nyamai of denying them chance “to exercise our democratic rights to elect grassroots officials.”
They threatened to ensure that Jubilee does not get meaningful votes from Kitui unless the two “selfish legislators” were dropped from party’s campaign team in the county.
However, Mr Mutambu and Ms Nyamai clarified that only elected leaders and aspirants with fully-paid membership of JP were allowed to vote adding the exercise was a party affair and not a public baraza where everyone could be allowed to participate.
A total of 19 representatives were picked to steer the party’s campaigns in the county.
Reports by Mwakera Mwajefa, Daniel Nyassy and Lucy Mkanyika, Joseph Kanyi, George Munene, Wycliff Kipsang, Brenda Gamonde, Thomas Waita and Bruhan Makonga