The PNU Alliance has proposed tough nomination rules aimed at producing a single presidentialcandidate next year.
The raft of rules are meant to persuade the top three presidential contenders — Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, and Cabinet ministers Uhuru Kenyatta and George Saitoti — to submit themselves to a competitive electoral process.
On Friday, at a PNU Alliance meeting in Nairobi, the three aspirants were upbeat about their resolve to unite and present a single presidential candidate in next year’s General Election.
The alliance that has adopted South African National Congress presidential candidate and persuade the others to back him.
The alliance’s grand strategy is to inherit President Kibaki’s vote bloc intact, and keep it away from Prime Minister RailaOdinga, who is eyeing the top seat, until the 2012 ballot day.
A key feature of the new nominations rules crafted by a think tank of scholars and aides from PNU, ODM-K and Kanu is to persuade alliance members to give up their rights to nominate candidates from the wards to the presidential level, and surrender the rights to the alliance.
This is to avoid a repeat of 2007 elections where President Kibaki’s PNU finished with only 47 MPs, although he garnered over four million votes, compared to ODM’s Raila who, too, garnered over four million votes, but his party had 98 MPs.
This will be the toughest call since there has been suspicion among the parties in the alliance and they would only cede their fight to present candidates for election only when they are convinced that their interests would not be violated.
Members of the think tank that has been working on the nomination rules are Dr Stephen Karau, Ms Beatrice Elachi, Prof Peter Kagwanja, Ms Wambui Wanjiru, Dr Cleopa Mailu, Mr Peter Sepalan, Mr Maina Kamanda, Mr Justin Muturi, Mr Gabriel Mutunga, Mr James Chabari, Mr Peter Kahara and Mr Martin Kuria.
Affiliate parties will remain as lobbies within the alliance, just like in ANC, where they consign their activities and competition to their regions and counties where they enjoy popularity, but leave all electoral matters at the national level to the alliance.
"Any party that fields candidates by issuing nomination tickets in defiance of and in competition with the alliance is no longer a member of the alliance and will be treated like any other rival," Energy Minister and convener of the alliance’s committee Kiraitu Murungi, said.
Three nomination modes have been proposed — direct, indirect, and hybrid — but which have to be endorsed by all affiliate parties before they are adopted.
Most members of the think tank say the direct method was the best as it is free and fair, reduces chances of manipulation of delegates, especially at the presidential nominations, and establishes which presidential candidate is most popular in all regions around the country.
"However, it is also very expensive if done manually and gives undue advantage to candidates who come from larger regional blocs, and is vulnerable to manipulation by the opponents," says a document authored by the team.
The think tank also proposed the indirect system where delegates at each level vote for potential candidates. The delegates are selected by the party/parties on an agreed formula.
"However, it is easier for the candidates to manipulate the outcome, promotes regional voting, voters are unlikely to associate with the process, and high chances of ending in an acrimonious fallout with of affiliates," the document says.
The third proposal involves a hybrid system that comprises of direct and indirect nomination.
"The system is a win-win situation where candidates can agree on the modalities and support at the presidential level, gives recognition and participation to affiliate parties at the grassroots level. Direct nomination would be employed at the ward to county level, while delegates system will be used for presidential nominations," the document says in part.
But the hybrid system, too, is faulted as too costly. They also note in the document that while delegates at the national level are easily manipulated, the system carries high risks of triggering a falling out with affiliate parties whose candidates lose.
The document recommends direct nomination system for county level and the delegate system for the presidential nominations.
The document proposes three delegates from every ward in Kenya — a man, a woman and a youth — for the presidential nominations.
Currently, there are 2,560 wards that would bring to the election a total of 7,680 delegates, who would be joined by elected leaders, one county representative per ward, three party branch officials, and ten life party members.
This brings the total to 12,011 delegates who will nominate a presidential candidate by secret ballot at a central location.