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Aspirants call for transparency ahead of SJAK polls

A section of aspirants in the upcoming Sports Journalists Association of Kenya (SJAK) elections have accused the current officeholders of withholding key information regarding the polls.

With the deadline for nomination set for Friday ahead of the March 4 elections, the James Waindi-led “Team Nguvu Mpya” says none of the concerns raised have been addressed so far despite having written to the current office numerous times.

“Because of the silence we have been treated to, we are left with no option but to let our supporters know what is happening as we continue journeying confidently towards victory,” Waindi said during a press conference at Nyayo National Stadium on Thursday.

Some of the concerns raised by aspirants include the electoral guidelines, voter register, and the framework for solving disputes arising from the polls.

“With just a week to the elections, we have information that the Kenya National Sports Council will conduct the election. We would like to know when this body will be brought on board, which electoral guidelines they will follow, and if there will be room for appeal, in case of any dispute,” said a statement read by Cellestine Olilo, My Network Editor at Nation Media Group, who wants to be the treasurer of the body.

Some members of the current SJAK office are also defending their seats.

“For this reason, we are wondering how independent the process will be, because until now, SJAK is the one organising elections. How level will the ground be?” she posed.

The group is now calling for an urgent meeting with the Sports Council.

They believe the meeting with the Sports Council is procedural and very crucial for the success of the election.

“SJAK is for us all, and I’d like to reaffirm our commitment and fidelity to the association. All we are asking for is openness and transparency. It is our hope that the issues raised here will be looked into urgently, so that the March 4 exercise can be a success. We would also like to assure our supporters that all is well, and team Nguvu Mpya is ready for victory come March 4.”

Waindi, who is the Sports Editor at People Daily, leads the line-up that includes Standard Group’s Moses Wakhisi (secretary general), Eric Njiru (Homeboyz Radio, Vice President), Mukami Wambora (organising secretary), Olilo (treasurer), and members Abula Ahmed (K24), Agnes Makhandia (NMG), Geoffrey Mwamburi (Radio Citizen), Dennis Okeyo (Standard Group) and Charity Wanja.

Wakhisi said SJAK needs to be taken with the seriousness it deserves and urged members to vote wisely.

In a quick rejoinder, outgoing SJAK Secretary General Mike Okinyi said the group should woo voters and stop panicking.

“All the issues they are raising have been addressed. As late as yesterday (Wednesday), the voters register was put on the SJAK WhatsApp group. The notice for elections was given three months ago,” Okinyi, who has opted against defending his seat, said.

“Deadline for nomination was put as close to the election to avoid people being locked out. An email was sent also to indicate clearly that the Sports Council will conduct the elections. We will hand over the final list of eligible voters, aspirants and election rules to the Returning Officer on Monday. We believe in open democracy, so let people avoid being jittery and seek for votes peacefully.”

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