Are foreigners being registered to vote in this year’s elections in Kenya contrary to the Constitution?
Opposition leader Raila Odinga says yes. He claims members of the secretive National Intelligence Service were crossing borders and issuing voters cards to Ethiopians and Ugandans using smuggled IEBC Biometric Voter Registration (BRV) kits.
The leader of the Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD) did not provide any evidence on what he called “credible information” about the illegal activities but warned “things will be bad in Kenya if a single vote is stolen.” President Kenyatta dismissed the claims as “a ploy to cause chaos.”
Is the ruling Jubilee government using members of the Kenya Defense Force and civil servants to manipulate the elections as claimed by the opposition? No one knows.
Is the electoral register so screwed-up to the extent that tens of thousands of people have identical identification details in the voters’ register?
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) agrees.
Indeed, Raila himself was a victim of this mix-up. It was found he shared details of his voters’ card with another individual many miles away. As a matter of fact, according to the IEBC, over 120,000 Kenyans are in the same dilemma.
If this is the scenario prevailing six months to the August elections then the integrity of the polls is under threat.
These worrisome revelations have raised a red flag over the direction of the elections, and could be a trigger to post-election violence much worse than what was experienced in 2007/2008.
In the meantime, the Internal Security Ministry has asked Raila to record a statement and provide more details about the alleged illegal registration.
It is one thing if what is alleged is a rhetorical bravado by politicians desiring to hold sway over voters, but if it’s intended to raise the specter of emotions and violence then the whole affair has potentially grave consequences.
The new leadership at the IEBC under the chairmanship of Wafula Chebukati has taken over an organization with a history of corruption, fraud and stultifying bureaucracy. It is an organization that has been vilified for manipulating the voting process and skewing results; and of connivance and dirty tricks.
IEBC shared the blame with others for the post election violence of 2007/2008 that sent Uhuru and five others to the International Criminal Court at The Hague; and was held responsible for the near explosive situation after Uhuru’s controversial win in the 2013 elections.
It is an organization with a damaged reputation. I hope as he prepares for the polls, Chebukati will move with speed to repair those shortcomings.
I have gone on record here as suggesting that the 2017 polls will be rigged. I still hold that position. I hope the IEBC will prove me wrong. But with the allegations of malpractices now swirling around the electoral body and the tense reactions coming from Kenyans, the stakes are high and an urgent action is imperative to freeze public angst.
Unfortunately, given the current level of vitriol, high-decibel noise and disruption of meetings, coming from candidates and the public, the upcoming elections could turn out to be distressfully chaotic and monstrously violent.
President Kenyatta must avoid mayhem from occurring to save his legacy. He must lower the temperature by avoiding reactionary comments that further fuel opposition anger and create unnecessary queasiness.
Instead, he should put his effort in solving the two-month old doctors’ strike and in extinguishing hunger facing a third of the country’s population.
Otherwise, the second Kenyatta at the helm could end up being just a name.
And that is my say.
Joe Khamisi is a former journalist, diplomat and Member of Parliament. He is also the Author of ‘Politics of Betrayal:Diary of a Kenyan Legislator‘, a political memoir about the situation in Kenya between 2001, when the ruling party of President Daniel Arap Moi, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), merged with Raila Odinga’s National Development Party.
The book also narrates cases of corruption in Parliament and in the Media and records Senator Obama’s visit to Kenya in 2006. As a friend of Barack Obama Senior, the author also remembers the times and tragedies of the American-educated economist.
Joe Khamisi’s second book, a biography, ‘Dash Before Dusk’ is also now on sale.
Joe’s latest book is ‘The Wretched Africans: A Study of Rabai and Freretown Slave Settlements‘ which has recently been published and is now available to purchase.