Raila Odinga’s Orange party is now running against time to carry out nationwide elections of officials.
National Elections Board (NEB) chairperson Catherine Mumma presented a Sh220 million budget to the secretariat to conduct the exercise which was to take place between March and April this year.
The delay has now thrown the board into a crisis and have called a meeting on Wednesday to harmer a new schedule.
Mumma said that they are on course and will have the polls immediately the COVID- 19 situation allows, adding that the board will have a meeting to draft guidelines in readiness for the exercise which will start from the polling stations to the national level.
“We are meeting on Wednesday as NEB to finalize the guidelines as we continue to prepare to roll out the exercise when the situation allows,” Mumma said.
“You are aware that the presidential directive on the Covid-19 lockdown measures has prohibited the holding of political meetings. We will therefore not advise our members to break this directive.”
The meeting will be the first since ODM announced party leader Raila Odinga did not apply for the Orange 2022 presidential ticket.
ODM last week said only Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and his Kakamega counterpart Wycliffe Oparanya had submitted their application to fly the party’s flag.
But Mumma clarified that the issue of the presidential aspirants will not be on the table when the five-member board meets.
NEB members are Mumma, former Wajir South MP Abdulahi Diriye, Richard Tairo, Syntei Nchoe and Emily Awita.
ODM chairman John Mbadi blamed the delay in holding grassroots election on the coronavirus spike witnessed in the country, adding the party is keen not to risk the lives of supporters especially during this third wave.
“With corona things are at a standstill. I don’t think we are in a hurry,” Mbadi said.
There have been reports of a split within rank and file of the party on how to pick the officials.
Whereas the NEC chaired by Raila Odinga had decided that the party holds elections, a section of senior officials have been pushing for hand-picking of office bearers ahead of next year’s General Election.
The anti-grassroots polls crusade is led by the county chairmen’s forum, which says the exercise, besides being unnecessarily expensive, will lead to divisions.
Last month, Makadara MP George Aladwa told off those pushing for grassroots elections, insisting that the harmonization they are fronting as county chairmen has the blessings of party leader Raila.
He spoke during a rally in Kibera’s Kamkunji grounds.
Mbadi insists that NEC has not vacated its decision on grassroots elections and that is the model the party will adopt when electing its officials.
“The decision that was passed by NEC only the Central Management Committee or NEC can change,” Mbadi said.