Unlike in most sports federations, elections at the Kenya Golf Union, KGU, have always been a low key affair headlined by negotiated democracy. This has been largely so for two reasons; golfers apathy and horse trading during elections.
In fact, very few golfers are aware that KGU elections will be held tomorrow Friday 28th May 2021. This is despite the AGM notice having been circulated to all member clubs in the requisite period. Should we blame the state of affairs on indifference or a non-vibrant electoral process?
Curiously, I have never witnessed campaigns ahead of KGU polls. So what do aspirants stand for? What’s their vision for the game? How can they be held to account? The absence of such a process makes it very difficult to appraise the officials when they assume office.
Under the KGU constitution votes are weighted on the basis of the magnitude of the club membership. Clubs with 50 or less members are assigned one vote while the big clubs, with a roll of more than 425 members, have five votes. More than 100 delegates thus converge at the Union headquarters to vote during the annual AGM in an exercise conducted through secret ballot. Member clubs nominate one representative to exercise each vote to which the club is entitled.
Interestingly although there are 10 positions up for grabs, only the six Executive Member positions attract competition. Thus tomorrow’s exercise will be a coronation for Peter Kiguru, George Gathu, Njani Ndiritu and Philip Ochola who are all unopposed for the positions of Chairman, Vice Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary respectively.
Traditionally, through negotiated democracy the holders of these four positions rotate the chairmanship within their ranks in a bid to maintain business continuity at KGU and avoid any acrimonious fall outs that may arise from a contested election. The camaraderie in the Executive means there can be no diversity in opinion lest one is accused of rocking the boat.
All eyes will be on the six Executive member positions where outsiders Martin Nyaga, Joe Kehara and Taufiq Balala will be seeking to unseat incumbents Collins Ojiambo, Chris Kinuthia, Chris Muchugu, David Ndungu, Karugu Macharia and Peter Kimani.
Outgoing chairman Ben Omuodo will go down in history as having served for the shortest time after his ascension to office was delayed for more than four months, thanks to the mayhem occasioned by coronavirus. While he assumed office with lofty ambitions chief among them taking the game to the grassroots, all has not been well. There has been barely any activity in the golf circles as a countrywide ban on sports activities- on two occasions- has rendered all plans still born.
“We have laid out a plan to work with both the National and County governments. Under this arrangement, golf is going to be introduced in the school’s sports curriculum. Currently golf is only taught in a few private schools. We want to change this by taking the curriculum to public schools beyond Nairobi and Mombasa,” Omuodo said last year upon taking over the mantle from Anthony Murage. It remains to be seen if the incoming office will lurch on to this KGU pet project that has largely been pegged on the pipe dream of the restoration of the Lenana School golf course.
All is not lost though. During his tenure, Omuodo has presided over the implementation of the World Handicap system that replaced CONGU early this year. Though fraught with technical challenges at the implementation stage, Kenya has finally joined the rest of the world in switching to the WHS.
Even as he exits the stage this week, the puzzle surrounding the financial health of the Union remains unresolved. In an earlier interview, Omuodo had signaled intentions of diversifying revenue streams noting that the current affiliation fees paid by members was way short of KGU’s budget: “But honestly we need more funds. We would have asked our members to consider increasing the affiliation fees but this is not ideal at the moment. We shall revisit the issue of affiliation fees very soon. We are also optimistic that we shall start benefiting from the national government’s Sports Fund very soon.” This agenda, for sure, will keep the incoming office busy.