Changes to the Political Parties Act, if passed and signed into law, will have far reaching effects on the operations of political parties as well as individual politicians ahead of the general elections.
Key among the proposals by the law is that all parties that agree to go into the elections as a coalition will field joint candidates in the various elective positions.
This means that the yet to be officially unveiled Azimio La Umoja Coalition and probably the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) that are largely expected to go into the polls as coalitions will have to put in place measures of identifying the best candidates for every other elective seat in the country.
This reality of a joint nomination exercise is the cause of untold jittery only spoken about in hushed tones.
Politicians from the Raila Odinga led Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) stronghold in Nyanza and Western regions are perhaps the most concerned about how this exercise will be carried out.
During the last elections, four Members of Parliament (MPs) braved the ODM wave and got elected on another party tickets, much to the chagrin of ODM party honchos.
They were Olago Aluoch who was elected on a Ford Kenya ticket to represent Kisumu West and Ugenya’s David Ochieng who sailed through the little known Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG).
Shakeel Shabbir and Peter Masara managed to win as independent candidates to represent Kisumu East and Suna West respectively.
Even though Muhoroni MP Onyango Koyoo retained his seat in the last polls on an ODM ticket, his constituency will also likely to be on the radar after he badly embarrassed the party in 2013 on a PDP ticket.
He will be up against party stalwart and Kisumu businessman Dr Hezron McObewa for the ODM nod.
These, and several politicians aspiring for various seats are keenly watching the bill and what would become of it.
Downplaying the threat
The reality that unlike other elections, missing out on a nomination ticket may send one to the political cold for the next five years.
Former East Africa Law Society President James Mwamu however downplayed the perceived impending quagmire.
He said that the people will have an opportunity to pick whoever they want in a democratic process that will pit all coalition partners against each in the so called friendly fire.
“Just like it has been done in the past, people will be presented with aspirants from all parties that are in that given coalition and then they vote, the winner will fly the ticket,” he said.
Mwamu, who has been campaigning to dethrone Shakeel after 15 years as MP for Kisumu East said that each coalition will have to work on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on how to pick its candidates and avoid the acrimonious fallouts usually witnessed during party primaries.
In the event that the incumbent Shakeel does not return to ODM and opt to defend his seat as an independent candidate, Mwamu and former Kenya Sugar Board Director Nicholas Oricho will batle it out for the lucrative ODM certificate alongside any other Azimio coalition aspirants.
Oricho was badly bruised by Shakeel in the last elections despite flying the ODM flag. Others in the race include Kisumu based gynecologist Dr Ben Juma, journalist and Young African Leaders Initiative graduate Betty Akinyi and Nairobi businessman Anditi Winyo.
In the neighboring Kisumu West, incumbent and three term legislator Olago Aluoch will be heading back to battle in a field that he is now only too familiar with.
Twice he has sailed through against the strong ODM wave and represented the people of Kisumu West. With the new developments around the bill, close associates of MP intimated that he was watching before he makes very calculated moves.
However, earlier this week, Olago himself let the cat out of the bag when he announced that he had ditched his sponsoring party Ford Kenya, for the newly formed Wafula Wamunyinyi led Democratic Action Party (DAP-Kenya).
The move seemed strategic to allow him position himself for nomination inside the Azimio coalition. With Ford Kenya party leader Moses Wetangula still wallowing in the miasma of decision making, Olago’s move suggested the possibility of more defections and realignments as the clock ticks towards the next polls.
The Kisumu West seat has attracted several politicians including Kisumu County Education CEC John Awiti whom he whitewashed in the last elections even with the ODM ticket.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that Kisumu Woman Rep Rosa Buyu is also preparing her arsenal for another fight with Olago.
The two are sworn political enemies and may reduce the race to a two horse race if they go to the ballot for both nominations and the general elections.
In Ugenya constituency, David Ochieng of the MDG party, twice shy after having been bitten once has already declared that his party will be fielding candidates in all elective positions.
It remains to be seen if he will lead the MDG troops into the Azimio train or any other coalition, or even choose to stand alone as a party. He will be facing a myriad of politicians eyeing the ODM flag including veteran journalist David Ohito.
While ODM’s Director of Elections Junet Mohamed may be walking easy back to parliament as MP for Suna East, the opposite could be true for his neighbor in Suna West, Peter Masara.
Though he has lately been seen in the company of ODM party insiders, Masara is likely to face a mountain in a bid to secure the ODM ticket for a second stab at the seat.
This impending scenario is not only unique to ODM or Luo Nyanza. If the Political Parties Amendment Bill sails through as is widely expected, there is going to be heightened political activities as politicians look for comfortable paths for getting back into either the National Assembly or the Senate.