NAIROBI: Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) plans to go for a retreat next week billed as a mid-term review of the Opposition’s performance in checking the Jubilee Government and to refine its strategy for 2017.
Orange party leader Raila Odinga, senators, governors and members of the National Assembly will attend the two-day retreat that begins on August 15 at Maanzoni Lodge in Machakos.
The meeting is part of preparations for upcoming meeting of parties affiliated to Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD).
ODM’s retreat comes against the backdrop of ongoing preparations for grassroots elections that were earlier scheduled for this week but which were postponed to August 29 to address controversy on whether the so-called party ‘rebels’ should be allowed to participate.
Yesterday, the National Elections Board (NEB) re-opened applications from today to August 18, citing the huge interest by members to run for seats.
At the retreat, ODM members will take stock of the opposition’s Okoa Kenya referendum initiative.
The Committee of Experts has hired 100 clerks to digitilise the details of the more than one million Kenyans who have signed up in support for the referendum bid as required by law.
The list of voters will be submitted to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for verification and once cleared, the draft Constitutional Amendment Bill will be presented to the 47 county assemblies where it requires the support of at least 24 to move it forward.
It emerged that the Opposition chiefs are targeting a referendum date of mid-next year, apparently to build momentum towards the contest with President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017.
Party members will also review to what extent their criticism of the Government on issues of national concern like corruption, insecurity, skewed public appointments and distribution of national wealth, among others, has resonated with the public.
ODM chairman John Mbadi confirmed the party planned the meeting to take stock of how it has performed from the time Jubilee coalition took the reins of power.
Coming in the wake of Jubilee forays in Western region, the Orange party is also keen on cracking the whip on some of its members who have openly supported the Jubilee administration.
Mbadi, who is also the Suba MP, claimed the Jubilee administration was in a panic mode and had resorted to dangling carrots to woo their members.
ODM is also concerned about its preparedness for the forthcoming elections given that majority of its supporters did not vote in the 2013 polls due to lack of voter registration papers.
But with renewed efforts by Jubilee to widen its support base in predominantly ODM turfs in Western, Nyanza and Coast regions, the Orange party will review what needs to be done to scale up support of registration of voters.
A source yesterday indicated that during the retreat, the party will discuss the ways of embarking on a discreet but powerful charm offensive to consolidate support across the country and rectify mistakes that derailed Raila’s last three presidential bids.
After the retreat, CORD will hold another joint retreat to strategise on the activities that it should undertake to consolidate support from its stronghold as well as raid Jubilee areas.
CORD co-chair and Machakos Senator Johnston Muthama clarified that once ODM concludes its retreat, the party will share the recommendations with the coalition’s top management.