Primaries: Evidence of misconduct will attract action, disputes tribunal warns

The Political Parties Disputes Tribunal is promising action against political parties which did not follow the law during the recently concluded primaries.

While undertaking to deal firmly with disputes arising from the hugely-contested nominations which came to a close last week, PPDT vice-chairperson Dr. Wilfred Mutubwa noted that the tribunal expects aspirants who are dissatisfied with nomination exercises in their parties to come forth and adduce evidence of misconduct.

He said those aggrieved only ought to present a body of facts supporting their claims and action will be taken.

“If there is proof of corruption during primaries, the nomination outcome cannot stand. Once we prove beyond reasonable doubt that there were issues of graft or bribery, we will order a repeat of the nomination,” Dr. Mutubwa vowed during the “KENYA YAAMUA” program which premiered on KBC Channel 1 Television on Sunday.

Aside from alleged corruption to secure nomination tickets, the high-ranking disputes tribunal official indicated that some of the major complaints they have been receiving include the issuance of direct nominations, where a number of aspirants alleged that they had been coerced to drop out.

But even though he promised action, Dr. Mutubwa was quick to point out that the judicial body established under the Political Parties Act will not determine any dispute arising from the nominations unless the dispute has been heard and determined by the internal political party dispute resolution mechanisms.

He said this is important because, as of now, the matter is a political party affair and that the law gives parties the power to decide how they will choose aspirants.

“We are encouraging parties to have independent bodies to have issues within the party addressed. And the law allows that if one doesn’t agree with party decisions, they are free to visit the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal to seek redress.”

“Every party ought to have a committee to handle their own election disputes. But a majority of the members have issues with the party. You don’t expect them to appear before the same parties whenever they have disputes.” He said

Amid the complaints, he acknowledged that the country’s political parties made a good attempt in carrying out a fair exercise in the recently-concluded nominations especially considering the mega finances needed to successfully carry out a primary.

“We must ask ourselves whether our parties have the capacity to conduct primaries. IEBC uses up to Kshs.40 billion to conduct elections and you expect political parties to conduct polls which are almost identical to these elections.” He said

His sentiments resonated well with those of Salim Busaidy, the Chairman of the ANC party elections Board and KANU’s Political Affairs Secretary Fredrick Okango. While acknowledging that it is normal to have disputes after every political contest, Busaidy lamented that political outfits are conducting party primaries without the necessary funding.

To adequately deal with cases of misconduct during party nominations, he observes that parties ought to have updated registers that every member is comfortable with before the exercise is allowed to proceed.

“What parties need are strong foundations. To do this, they need a party register. This would have been used during primaries. But the majority of the parties don’t have this. Members also need to be allowed to scrutinize the party register. This is where we need to improve on.” Busaidy said in the Show moderated by Harith Salim

He added that “in a democracy, there will be a winner and a loser. There must be a complaint. What’s important is how complaints are viewed, whether they are fair or not?”

On his part, Okango justified the decision by some of the political parties, including KANU, not to subject some of their members to primaries, noting that it would have been a costly affair.

“Many political parties went the consensus way because there were fears that had we conducted primaries in some areas, there was bound to be violence. The positive thing with this is that in most cases, aspirants themselves settled on one of them to fly the party’s ticket.” He said

Okango said parties should also be allowed to issue direct nominations to some of the members who have invested much of their time and money in the party and who do not have challengers. He, however, cautioned that this should not be viewed as part of the corruption in the party saying “it will be unfair to subject them to nominations.”

“KENYA YAAMUA” is the second election-focused program launched by the public broadcaster after an identical English language show “KENYA DECIDES” which premiered last week.


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