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Kenya's Olympic body elections raise uproar

20 June 2013, 16:10 Ben Ochieng

Nairobi - The National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) held its elections late last month to give a fresh mandate to a new office to steer the local affiliate of the International Olympic Committee for the next four years.

Like in the past, the elections were staged amid and raised a storm among members of the sporting fraternity because of what they termed as the committee's "impenetrable cartel", with some even calling it a fraud.

The elections saw only two contestants going in unopposed out of the 12 positions that were contestable. Most would-be contestants find it a waste of time trying to challenge the incumbents and those who do so always know the tall order lined against them.

And here is the reason. NOCK has 31 votes to be cast when electing 13 officials of the executive committee.

The incumbent executive committee officials who are also contestants themselves hold a vote each. Therefore the 13 officials of NOCK have formed a voting cartel where they vote for each other thus starting ahead of their rivals by 13 votes.

The remaining 18 votes are cast by delegates seconded to the affiliate federations, who hold one vote each.

Interestingly, most of NOCK's executive committee are also senior officials of the affiliate federations. Hence every delegate from the affiliate is manipulated to vote for their seniors on the executive committee.

For example, NOCK's Secretary General Francis Paul who initially came to the executive courtesy of a nomination by the Kenya Handball Association is assured of a vote from the delegate of the association during the electoral process.

The delegate would then vote for Paul's cartel with reciprocal benefits. With such a cartel and cronies making up the voting machine, each member of the executive committee is guaranteed a whooping 20 votes at any given election.

The remaining nine, though not necessary at this point, are easy to manipulate. Owing to this process, all the incumbents retained their seats with very wide margins.

The chairman of the Football Kenya Federation (KFF), Sam Nyamweya, who had initially forwarded his name to contest the position of Second Vice-Chairman, withdrew his candidature on the floor and walked away after throwing a tirade saying he would not be party to a process which is a shame.

"By participating in the elections, I would be giving legitimacy to a flawed process which is against my conscience," he thundered as his main rival Pius Ochieng from the Kenya Weightlifting Association went in unopposed.

Besides benefiting from a faulty electoral process, NOCK officials have in the past also been accused of having taken advantage of another clause in the constitution to get their priorities wrong.

In 1995, in view of the budget presented before the General Assembly, the 13 officials allocated themselves 28,000 U.S. dollars and disbursed only 16,000 dollars to the affiliate association for development of sports.

This allocation was made courtesy of rule 2.3 of the NOCK constitution which reads thus, "the executive shall have powers to pay any member or official such honorarium as it may from time to time deem necessary or appropriate."

To make sure their activities are kept safe, the constitution invokes a very intimidation confidentiality clause under rule 26.1.

The article states that "without prejudice to his rights or duties, each member shall treat all information relating to any member, the Committee or Executive Committee as strictly confidential and shall not communicate such information to any person, authority or organization."

In the event of violation of the confidentiality clause, the Executive Committee has powers to punish a member as it deems fit.

Attempts by the government in the past to have a limit of two four-year terms for officials of sports organizations have been met with stiff resistance.

In view of that, it is only the daring or the very confident ones who join the fray.

Former NOCK executive committee member, Alfred Khangati, who also served in the office of the Prime Minister in the last government, was banking on his past association with the sports body to wrestle the chairman's position from IOC council member Kipchoge Keino but managed only 10 votes against the latter's 21.

"This is an affront to the IOC and I am going to write to the world body about this electoral fraud that its Kenyan affiliate has conducted in the name of elections," fumed Khangati.

Former international athletes and world marathon record holders Paul Tergat, Catherine Ndereba and Tecla Loroupe also got positions as athlete's representatives.

- Xinhua

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