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Nairobi among voter importation hotspots as mass listing begins

The last mass voter registration before the General Election begins Monday, with the officials keenly watching areas notorious for voter importation which could tilt the balance in the August 8 polls.

All the pointers indicate that the elections could be the most competitive in the country’s history.

Mr Ezra Chiloba, chief executive of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, and other senior officials will on Sunday hold a press conference in Nairobi at midday to provide details of the mass voter registration.

SECRET WEAPON

The Sunday Nation can report that some aspirants, as part of their secret weapon against opponents, are splurging millions of shillings to aide voters move their polling centres to where they will help them win such seats.

While the most affected are counties where governor aspirants are out to outwit opponents, parliamentary and county assembly races are not left behind.

Many potential voters in border areas are expected to cross over to neighbouring centres to enlist.

Sources within IEBC identify Murang’a, Kiambu, Meru, Kajiado, Narok, Bomet, Nairobi, Busia, Bungoma, Siaya, Machakos and Kakamega as counties where the practice is likely to be most pronounced.

On Saturday, Mr Chiloba, said: “Kenyans must be cautious of politicians out to misuse them for their selfish gains. Such tendencies take away their freedom of choice.”

Historically, Nairobi has witnessed this trend perhaps more than any other region, owing to the high stakes placed on its political offices and the fact that it gets the highest revenue allocation from the National Treasury.

INFLUENCE OUTCOME

Over time, Kiambu, Machakos and Murang’a have been said to supply voters who shift to Nairobi to influence the outcome. Figures at IEBC support this.

After close to 500,000 voters transferred from their previous polling stations to new ones during the last mass registration early last year, a commission official said most of the voter transfers were recorded in Nairobi and the movements were largely from Kiambu County.

The registration mainly focused on Mathare Constituency, represented in Parliament by Mr Stephen Kariuki, a son of one of the governor aspirants and former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru.

The commission described the huge number of transfers as “largely suspicious” and promised a proper analysis on what may have prompted it.

“It was noted that 493,169 voters applied for transfers from one station to another; one county assembly ward to another, one constituency to another; or from one county to another. The large number of transfers of already registered voters was witnessed across all counties,” said outgoing chairman Issack Hassan in a statement.

A total of 1.4 million new voters were listed countrywide in the last drive.

CRYING FOUL

Already, Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero is crying foul. He accuses Jubilee of being behind a plot to deny him a second term in office.

“There should be no transportation of voters from other areas to come and register in Nairobi because we want Nairobians to elect people who will serve them. We should not allow outsiders to come and choose leaders for us.”

He said he would launch the final voter registration exercise for Nairobi tomorrow morning.
Jubilee, however, dismissed his sentiments as a sign of panic.

“I think he is preparing his supporters for the inevitable loss he’s staring at. He is explaining the loss in advance. Our agenda is not to deny him a second term in office but to redeem Nairobi from bad governance. We are not importing any voter but are asking those who live and work in Nairobi to come out and vote,” nominated MP Johnson Sakaja, who is one of the governor aspirants, said.

To stem this phenomenon, the IEBC has devised a raft of measures that the secretariat says will “maintain order and integrity of the voters roll”.

Last week, the commission announced that all people who want to change their registration centres will have to apply from the IEBC constituency office where they first registered.

“That’s a policy decision,” the manager of communication and public affairs, Mr Andrew Limo, said on Saturday.

Some incumbent governors are being accused of diverting public resources to import voters.