Key Politicians in Panic Mode After Failing to Get Good Numbers in Voter Registration

By Isaac Ongiri

The low turnout has sent shockwaves among politicians and political parties, more so the Opposition, as it appears to have maintained the status quo even after elaborate campaigns by politicians seeking an edge over their opponents in the registration.

The electoral commission's one month mass voter registration drive comes to an end on Tuesday with only 28 per cent of the targeted voters listed so far.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission's chief executive, Mr Ezra Chiloba, on Friday announced that only 868,073 of the four million targeted voters in the first phase had registered.

An examination of the data for all the 290 constituencies and 1,450 wards obtained from the commission shows a dismal outlook with constituencies registering between 700 and 8,550 voters.

And there is a fresh worry over 229,610 voters who applied to transfer from their 2013 polling centres in 26 counties.

Even constituencies in Nyanza where leaders appear to have intensified mobilisation campaigns fell way off the target, raising concerns about the future.

At one point, Cord leader Raila Odinga drove to a poling centre in Sori, Nyatike constituency, just to demonstrate how serious the exercise was to him but even in Nyatike just a few people had turned out to register by March 10.

Despite Mr Odinga's personal visit, only 5,167 people had registered in Nyatike with Kachieng Ward recording 715, Kanyasa 531, North Kadem 198, Macalder/Kanyarwanda 842, Kaler 448, Got Kachola 714 and Muhuru 819.

(Read: IEBC takes leaders to task over poor voter registration)

Mr Odinga arrived back in the country from Israel late on Friday night and is expected to push on with campaigns for voter registration to increase the numbers in his strongholds.

POOR CIVIC EDUCATION

However, even though the reports show a general slow response, several constituencies in Mr Odinga's Nyanza stronghold still appeared to have registered the highest numbers with Alego Usonga leading nationally after listing 8,824 new voters.

Bondo has listed 8,511 and Kisumu Central 7,342.

Other constituencies that have listed relatively high numbers so far include Kisauni 7,122, Ndhiwa 7,049, Kisumu West 7,342, Mathare 6,526, Gem 6,403, Kisumu East 6,255, Naivasha 6,090, Rarieda 6,067 and Kanduyi 6,048, according to an IEBC report dated March 6.

ODM chairman John Mbadi on Saturday called on all Cord MPs and Members of the County Assembly to camp on the ground Sunday and Monday to ensure those yet to be listed are encouraged to do so.

"I am in Suba at the movement moving from door to door to ensure every person with an ID card is listed as a voter. I want to urge my colleagues to move to their constituencies to do the same," Mr Mbadi said.

His Dagoretti South counterpart Dennis Waweru also came out to urge all Kenyans to register as voters wherever they are around the country.

"Kenyans should rise to honour a civic duty of registering as voters. They should do so from wherever they are as it is their constitutional right to do so," Mr Waweru said.

The lawmaker blamed the poor show in the exercise to lack of communication due to poor voter education strategies and inadequate media sensitisation campaigns.

"The campaign appears not to have been effective. The media sensitisation has been missing and voter education inadequate," Mr Waweru said.

He told the Sunday Nation that he decided to chip in by erecting several billboards around the city to help IEBC mobilise voters to register.

LEADERS WORRIED

Mr Waweru however argues that Kenyans in their peculiar characteristic would turn out in the remaining two days to register as expected.

"Less than 30 percent of the potential voters targeted to be enrolled in the Mass Voter Registration had turned up by the close of the third week ended Sunday, 6th March," Mr Chiloba said.

He said that the distributed Biometric Voter Registration kits appear to be underutilised with each registering only seven voters per day.

Despite the fact that the IEBC failed to hit the target across all political zones, Jubilee Coalition strategists are worried about the prospects of low voter turn-out in their strongholds at the next General Election.

The high registration and turn-out was considered an important factor by the coalition in the 2013 General Election and is seen to have tipped the scales in their favour and for President Kenyatta to attain the number of votes required to get the winning margin of 50 per cent plus one vote.

In this sense, then, increased voter registration is considered important as any drop in voter registration and turn-out in their strongholds would compromise their chances of re-election.

With a rebellion in the Rift Valley and widespread disappointment in the Central region because of unfulfilled promises, Jubilee Coalition strategists are worried that there could be a lower number of people willing to spend hours queuing on August 7, 2017 than there were on March 4, 2013.

Source: All Africa

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