Taita Taveta residents cast their votes amid rigging claims

Tuesday August 8 2017

Voters queue at Mwanyambo Primary School polling centre in Voi, Taita Taveta County. Rigging claims have been rife in the county with candidates accusing their opponents. PHOTO | LUCY MKAKINYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Voters queue at Mwanyambo Primary School polling centre in Voi, Taita Taveta County. Rigging claims have been rife in the county with candidates accusing their opponents. PHOTO | LUCY MKAKINYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By LUCY MKANYIKA
More by this Author
By BRIAN OCHARO
More by this Author

Thousands of voters in Taita Taveta  County Tuesday morning braced the cold to cast their votes amidst rigging claims by some candidates. 

Voters started trooping to the various polling centres from as early as 4 am but the exercise kicked off at 6am at slow pace due to confusion in the order of names and some technical hitches with the biometric voter register,

Governor John Mruttu, who is defending his seat  as an independent candidate, cast his ballot at 6am at Kimala Primary school polling centre in his home turf of  Taveta constituency.  

Rigging allegations were rife in the county as candidates accused each other of foul play.

Governor Mruttu claimed that marked ballot papers were  being circulated to some polling stations in Taveta Constituency. 

The alleged ballot papers were said to have been sneaked into the country from Tanzania through the Holili-Taveta border

However, the Nation could not establish the whereabouts  of the  alleged marked papers.

The governor also raised issues with stamping of the ballot papers, saying the stamps lacked  IEBC serial numbers thus increasing the possibility of being tampered with.   

Thomas Mwadeghu who is seeking to unseat Mr Mruttu claimed opponents had imported voters from Kwale County to rig him out. 

The aspiring governor said he had received a text message from a reliable source with information on the alleged voter importation and added that he would forward the message to the IEBC. 

Mr Mwadeghu also claimed his agents were  being denied access to polling centres in his strongholds, terming the action as unfair and meant to intimidate his candidature

But in a quick rejoinder, IEBC officials at the Mlambenyi Dispensary polling centre, where Mr Mwadeghu cast his vote,  denied the claims saying the candidate had come with many agents who could not be allowed in at the same time. 

"He had come with more than the required number of agents, we  are not allowed to have  more than one agent representing one candidate in the polling station at the same time," an official who requested anonymity said. 

Similar allegations were also made by another gubernatorial candidate, Jacinta Mwatela who claimed IEBC denied her agents accreditation cards despite having all the necessary identification documents. 

But Wundanyi Constituency Returning Officer Hamisi Tsumo rubbished the allegations saying the agents were issued with the cards but later returned them. 

“We have the documents showing the agents signed for the cards, it is untrue to claim we denied them cards,” he said. 

Taita Taveta County Returning Officer Festus Mucheke dismissed the claims raised by the candidates and their supporters and asked those with evidence to report to the commission and the police. 

He reminded politicians that it was unlawful to spread false information adding that those caught spreading lies will be arrested.