When the second mass registration of voters was set in motion by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, IEBC, politicians across the political divide; Jubilee and CORD were on their marks, like Hussein Bolt, ready to move around their ‘strongholds’ to make sure that as many people as possible registered as voters.
The exercise kicked off. The war of the titans was officially begun. The ruling party, Jubilee was led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Samoei Ruto while the opposition, CORD, was led by Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetangula and Musalia Mudavadi. Each camp vowed to make sure that it outdid the other in making sure that as many people as possible in their perceived strongholds registered as voters.
The registration came at a time when the country is witnessing the worst and longest nationwide doctor’s strike which has now entered its second month, the ongoing lecturers strike, the massacre of Kenya Defense Forces in Somalia and the ongoing biting drought with more than 2 million people at the brink of dying from starvation.
With all the tragedies above, the Head of State maintained his cool, addressing none of them but focused on one thing; voter registration. The opposition on the other hand did the same, talking about neither of the problems but voter registration making the process one of the most publicized and most campaigned for process in the history of Kenyan elections.
The IEBC had set a target of registering 6 million new voters and with the efforts from the politicians, the commission was sure that it will even surpass the target. Two week down the line and the politicians have been left a frustrated loot. With all the noise, all the pleading, all the singing and all the resources, Kenyans have refused to come out and register as voters. Politicians have been left to ask themselves endless questions with others calling on their supporters to force those who have not registered to do so like what happened in Kisumu.
The opposition has cried foul of the whole process. They have raised concerns such as fewer BVR kits having been taken to their strongholds, cases of double registration in the ruling party strongholds and many other allegations that have, of course been disputed by the ruling party.
Bribing people to register as voters
Even before the dust settles on the ground, unconfirmed reports are now alleging that the Cabinet Secretary of Devolution Mwangi Kiunjuri is in Nyahururu, issuing out 200 shillings for those who have not registered to register. It is also said that the coordinators are being paid 20,000 shillings for the same. The reports are yet to be confirmed but if it is true that Mwangi Kiunjuri is issuing out 200 shillings for people to register, it is wrong and against article 38 of the Constitution of Kenya which puts voter registration as a voluntary process and one that one should not be forced or manipulated to do so.
If the allegations will also turn out to be true, then this also disadvantages other areas like the already disadvantaged opposition strongholds of Nyanza and Western which has witnessed the lowest voter turnout since the whole process begun.
Asking the hard questions, the hard way