Cord politicians, youth and the electoral commission have heaped blame on the National Registration Bureau for the low turnout in the ongoing voter listing that closes on March 15.
Many youths have cited their lack of identity cards (IDs) as the main reason they have not registered as voters even as recent data from the registration bureau indicates that at least 375,963 IDs remain uncollected countrywide.
According to data from the registration bureau, Rift Valley, Central, Nairobi, Nyanza, Eastern, Coast, Western and North Eastern regions have 81,243, 54, 697, 45,083, 52,203, 32,334, 27,469, 22,732 and 7,140 uncollected ID cards respectively while another batch of 57,500 cards are lying in Huduma Centres across the country.
However, Cord politicians have accused the registrar of failing to release the IDs on time for citizens to register as voters, saying the huge backlog could hurt their chance of winning the next election.
Nyanza central regional IEBC coordinator Mr George Oyugi said that more than 80,000 people in Kisumu are affected by the slow issuance of IDs.
“Most of the cases are of people who applied for the cards 6 months ago and are yet to get them from the registrar. The situation is posing |a| challenge to our targets,” Mr Oyugi said.
On Wednesday, the commission’s deputy vice chairperson Lilian Mahiri-Zaja said they were already engaging the national registration bureau on the matter of uncollected IDs.
“They have agreed to make the process faster on realisation that the process is important for all the stakeholders,” Ms Mahiri-Zaja said.
LOW VOTER LISTING
The electoral commission says that only 251,894 new voters have been registered in the first week of listing against a target of 1,037,893.
MPs from the opposition strongholds said Saturday that in as much as they have been tasked to facilitate the registration process by their coalition, it would not be easy if the IDs remained at the registration bureau.
Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, Homa Bay Women Representative Gladys Wanga and Rarieda MP Nicolas Gumbo said that the failure to release the IDs risked costing many candidates victory in the polls.
Mr Wandayi, the ODM secretary for political affairs, said: “The long queues that form at various constituencies where district registrars pitch tent to issue identification cards tell of how dire the situation is.”
“We are working at removing some of the deliberately created impediments to this process before the days elapse,” Mr Wandayi told the Nation Saturday.
Mr Wandayi exonerated the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) from the blame saying it was the executive which was “busy putting artificial roadblocks especially in Cord strongholds so that they retain power in the 2017 polls.”
Mr Nicolas Gumbo, on the other hand, said that apart from the slow issuance of ID cards, there were still concerns of the distribution criteria of the BVR kits.
“We are not comfortable with the idea that one machine is being shared per ward during registration,” Mr Gumbo said.
Mr Odoyo Owidi, a political commentator from Homa Bay County, says that the politicians must do more than just point fingers at institutions and instead teach residents on the importance of the process.
“The issues stalking the process is that there are those who think that the vote will be stolen,” Mr Owidi said.
Earlier, when Cord leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula inspected a voter registration centre in Kisumu urged the registration bureau to expedite the release of IDs in their possession.
“We have cases of people who have been holding waiting cards from as far as June 2015,” Mr Wetangula said.
“We want the registration bureaus to ensure the IDs are delivered to the owners using chiefs and administrators at the grassroots,” the Ford Kenya leader said.
The IEBC has declined to accept waiting cards or old generation cards during the current listing.
IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba, in a statement to the media on Thursday, said that only new generation ID cards and valid passports are being used for voter registration.
“Temporary documents, driving licenses, police abstracts and waiting notifications are not allowed,” Mr Chiloba.