President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leaders Raila Odinga and Musalia Mudavadi on Wednesday clashed over claims of fraud in the ongoing voter registration.
Speaking in Mombasa, President Kenyatta accused the Opposition of spreading lies and propaganda to tarnish the government’s development record in the hope of winning the upcoming General Election on the basis of “falsehoods”.
He accused the Opposition of embarking on a journey of divisive politics and propagating hatred among Kenyans in their voter mobilisation rallies across the country.
In Nairobi, however, Mr Odinga appeared at the Lavington Primary School polling centre with a list of names registered with strange identity card numbers and claimed that a former Cabinet secretary was carrying out fraudulent voter registration. He called for investigations into the matter.
Mr Odinga’s audience was shocked after names of certain individuals popped up from the biometric voter registration kit when the strange double and single digit ID numbers were entered into the machines.
President Kenyatta defended the government on the fraud claims saying Jubilee was only interested in uniting Kenyans.
“As Jubilee, we are committed to uniting the country and serving all Kenyans irrespective of tribe or religion. The problem with our opponents is that they are more concerned with dividing the country than serving Kenyans,” he said when he stopped to address residents of Likoni, Kombani and Ukunda before he issued citizenship papers to the Makonde community at Sawasawa Grounds in Msambweni.
When Mr Odinga presented the list at the voter listing centre in Nairobi, one of the ID numbers was used to register eight different names.
“Today, we are here to demonstrate that the IEBC is currently registering foreigners and strangers to vote in the August 2017 election,” said Mr Odinga.
He added: “Our investigation has confirmed that numbers that do not qualify as identity card numbers have been used to register voters in parts of the country and that is responsible for what is being presented as high turnout in voter registration in those regions.”
People by the names Gitonga Wilson Kimathii, Kanja Julius Ngede, Kihinge Evans Kariuki, Kirinya Victoria Gatwiri, Mu Ko, Mugara Duncan, Muia Mbinya and Wanjiru Caroline Nduta were found to have been registered under document identification number 2.
The former Prime Minister provided 19 ID numbers he claimed had been used to register foreigners.
Mr Odinga said a senior Jubilee official was the mastermind of the fraudulent registration and that the former Cabinet secretary is working from the said official’s home to feed the IEBC database with foreign and non-existent voters.
But Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati defended the ongoing registration, saying the anomalies alleged by Mr Odinga might have occurred during the 2012 registration and not the current one.
According to Mr Chebukati, some of the ID numbers pinpointed by the Opposition leaders may be genuine. He added that some ID numbers that appeared in single digits were also genuine.
“The commission is aware that there are Kenyans who have ID numbers reading 0000002 or 0000023. These numbers may appear to be single digit 2 or double digit 23 respectively. It does not, therefore, mean that the two formats are different when it comes to idetification,” Mr Chebukati said.
At the same time, Mr Mudavadi, speaking by phone, claimed that youths in opposition areas were being denied IDs deliberately by government officials to block them from voting. He challenged President Kenyatta to make official his directive to have IDs issued to applicants in the shortest period.
He argued that with the increasing agitation in the build up to the election, Jubilee operatives were using “sophisticated tactics” during the voter registration to rig the elections in advance.
In Central Kenya, the government is using the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association to ensure students who have attained the age of 18 are issued with IDs and subsequently listed as voters.
The secondary school principals have been asked to compile a list of potential voters in their respective schools and forward them to Interior ministry and IEBC for processing of the vital documents.
A principal in Murang’a, who sought anonymity fearing victimisation, said the mobilisation of the teenagers started on Tuesday and principals had been asked to speedily compile the list.
The teacher said officials from Registrar of Persons department and IEBC clerks will later visit the learning institutions to issue the documents.
“We are reaching out to their parents to send us the documents needed in acquiring a national identity card. We are using matatu Saccos to transport the documents to school so that the eligible students can start the process of getting IDs,” explained the teacher.
In the same county, a student from Githembe Secondary School said he was given permission by his teachers to go home and get an ID and register as a voter.
He said teachers had insisted it will assist them in seeking employment after school.
“I am happy the teachers have allowed us participate in the coming election,” he said.