Party polls face hurdle of indifference to digital registration

Digital registration of members is turning out to be a headache to major political parties ahead of nominations set to begin next month.

Both Jubilee and ODM launched digital platforms to register members but party officials and aspirants are concerned the method may not be as effective as they thought.

The parties’ fairly computer illiterate population has been indifferent and many have shunned calls to register questioning the fees charged.

Jubilee has suffered more with wealthy aspirants buying the bulk of the smart cards, launched by President Kenyatta two months ago, in a bid to lock out their competitors from the party nominations.

Yesterday, JP’s vice-chairman, Mr David Murathe, warned aspirants who are hoarding cards in the hope of using them on nomination’s day that only card-holding members of the party will be allowed to vote in their preferred leaders.

“People should know that having five cards will be useless because only one card will be used. There is no need giving cards to your supporters who are not members of the party,” he said on phone.

The former Gatanga MP ruled out suggestions by some MPs from Mt Kenya region that only ID cards should be required of people to participate in the nominations.

“If I am a Narc Kenya candidate, I will send my supporters to ensure a weak candidate is nominated so that I win easily. We know that friendly fire kills and that people are either killed by enemy or friendly fire. We will not allow it,” he said.

ODM is also faced with a similar scenario where distributing the cards has turned out to be a major task as the party is yet to register a significant number of members despite having launched the exercise several months ago.

“We must look for a way to ensure all members vote. It is true that not everybody has registered despite the digital avenues availed to make work easier,” Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, who is also the ODM director of elections, said.

He warned that it will be disastrous to lock genuine party supporters out of elections on nomination day on account of not being registered.

But the law doesn’t allow parties to entertain none members in their primaries.

ODM executive director Oduor Ongwen however claimed that up to four million people had registered as ODM members since 2012.

At the same time, Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire, Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria and former Mathira MP Ephraim Maina also complained about shortage of cards and expressed fears that the primaries might not be free and fair.

Speaking at Mukuuri market in Governor Martin Wambora’s home turf, Ms Mbarire, who is also seeking the gubernatorial seat, said the county is a Jubilee stronghold and requires more cards and resources for a recruitment drive.

Speaking in Murang’a, Mr Iria asked Jubilee to allow the use of IDs during party nominations saying many people had not acquired the smart cards.

At Kabaru location yesterday, Mr Maina called for the use of the voters’ register.

Reported by Isaac Ongiri, Bernard Namunane, Charles Wanyoro, Martin Mwaura and Joseph Wangui

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