What you need to know:
- There have been claims that some politicians are offering Sh1,000 bribe for each voter transferred to their preferred polling station.
- In Nyanza, some politicians are offering goodies like a bottle of soda, cash handouts, free seeds and a packet of unga for each newly registered voter.
The electoral commission is under pressure to investigate bribery, intimidation, illegal transfer of voters and actions to suppress listing that have rocked the ongoing voter registration that targets six million new voters.
Other underhand tactics politicians are using are threats to deny public services to those without a voter’s card, with one MP linking issuance of constituency bursaries to only students who prove their parents are registered as voters.
South Mugirango MP Silvanus Osoro has defended this additional requirement for one to benefit from constituency fund bursary allocation, saying it would motivate people to register.
Although the electoral commission has recorded a low turnout one week after the exercise began — listing only 202, 518 against a target of 1.5 million — the irregularities suggest the scale would be bigger if the commission were to meet its targets.
With the poor turnout, politicians could equally resort to more unorthodox means to get the numbers that are crucial ahead of next year’s elections.
Electoral laws allow transfer of voters but with certain conditions, including a voter having been resident of a place for a specific time.
But the electoral commission acknowledges it has challenges enforcing this rule and politicians exploit the gaps to ‘import’ voters to swell numbers in their strongholds.
Voter Registration Regulations provide that one must have been a resident of the area they want to transfer to for at least six months.
According to the Elections Act, the voter is then required to apply to the commission for the transfer with authorisation from the local chief to confirm they have been resident in the area for the stipulated time.
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said enforcing the provision is difficult as he reminded the House committee on Justice and Legal Affairs that it’s MPs who passed the regulations.
“How else can a voter registration clerk determine that an individual has stayed in an area for six months?” Mr Chebukati posed. “That is how the idea of the chief came in. But is there another way?” he asked.
“It is one of the provisions in the regulations that we have cited for amendment to make it in synch with the Constitution,” he said.
Prof Abdi Guliye, an IEBC commissioner, said politicians have flouted the rules during voter transfers.
"During such voter registration drives, voter transfers instigated by politicians is possible because of political interests. However, there is a requirement that for such transfers to be effected, the voter must have lived in that political unit for not less than six months. Enforcing this is a challenge and the commission needs to be supported," Prof Guliye said.
There have been claims that some politicians are offering Sh1,000 bribe for each voter transferred to their preferred polling station.
An aspirant for Webuye West parliamentary seat Kelly Walubengo claimed that he had received reports that some voters are being offered Sh1,000 to change their polling stations.
"I have received damning reports that there are people who are being transferred from polling stations in Webuye West to Webuye East,” Mr Walubengo said.
Some residents of Webuye West were being moved to Mumias East constituency to register as voters.
Dishing out goodies
"How can you claim your benefits in Mumias East if you come from Webuye West? If they find out you are from a different constituency yet you voted in another constituency you won't be assisted even to get bursary for your children," he warned.
IEBC chairman Chebukati said the commission had not formally received the complaints.
"We have not received the complaint/information referred to. The commission is following the law as regards transfer of voters. The law applicable is Section 7 of the Elections Act and regulation 13C of the registration of voters’ regulations," Mr Chebukati said.
In Nyanza, politicians are enticing voters with goodies like a bottle of soda, cash handouts, free seeds and a packet of unga for each newly registered voter.
In Luo Nyanza, strategies to boost voter registration featured during the Nyanza leaders’ dialogue forum at the Sikri Three.
Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga is issuing free seeds to those who register. “We have to entice our people and that is why I promised that I will be dishing out maize flour to those who register as new voters. It is also the planting season and I am also going to issue free seeds to them as a way of motivation,” he said.
He is also working on some ‘rewards’ to the best performing ODM party officials who shall have registered the highest number of voters.
In Kisumu, Kondele ward rep Joachim Swagga Oketch is dishing out maize flour to newly registered voters.
His campaign dubbed ‘Chukua Kura, Beba unga’ was launched last week.
“We want as many people as possible to register as voters,” he said.
In Migori County, Uriri MP Mark Nyamita organised a mass voter registration exercise in Central Kanyamkago ward where those who participated were given ‘a token of appreciation’.
At the venue, all who turned out to register as voters were issued with ‘transport reimbursement’.
Speaking at a funeral on Sunday, Mr Nyamita threatened to withhold key services to those without identification and voters cards.
Nominated MCA Florence Oile said leaders will only dish handouts to those who present the vital documents.
“Our people are used to the handout culture. This time round you have to show the two documents before asking for favours,” she said at the weekend.
In Kisii, Dagoretti MP Simba Arati, who is eyeing the Kisii governor’s seat, has promised a bottle of soda for each new voter and handouts to only those with a voter’s card.
Borabu MP Ben Momanyi said voter registration in huge numbers is the surest way to support Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i get to the presidency, warning those without a voter’s card will not get food.
"We need numbers for him to sit at the negotiating table," said Mr Momanyi.
Reporting by Onyango K’Onyango, Brian Ojamaa, Ruth Mbula, Rushdie Oudia, Ian Byron and Benson Ayienda