The Opposition is demanding the suspension of mass voter registration scheduled for next month until enough equipment is available.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has planned to register voters for a month between February 15 and March 15 at the 24,618 centres that it used for the same purpose ahead the last election.
IEBC had asked the government for Sh2 billion for the registration so that it could create new centres but was allocated only Sh500 million.
The plan is to send two clerks and one biometric voter registration (BVR) kit to each ward in the country. The clerks will then move to various polling centres registering voters.
Orange Democratic Party MPs on Monday said that this is a trick to rig the election and wants registration to take place at every polling station. They also fear that more equipment will be sent to areas where Jubilee enjoys support.
“This country is likely to be plunged into chaos if this registration is not going to be conducted properly, and it is IEBC that will take responsibility,” ODM chairman John Mbadi told a press conference at party leader Raila Odinga’s Capitol Hill offices in Nairobi.
“IEBC needs to come out and do what is right. If they have no equipment or money to conduct this exercise. I would rather they postpone it and get money through supplementary budgetary appropriation. In the absence of that, as a coalition, we can guarantee our supporters that we are not going to wait for elections to be rigged,” he said.
IEBC VOTER TARGET
IEBC is planning to register at least four million new voters in the February drive but wants eight million over all by election time next year. That means that about 22 million voters will be on the roll by August 2017, up from 14 million in 2013.
IEBC chairman Isaack Hassan and chief executive Ezra Chilobah separately allayed the fears raised by Cord, arguing that the equipment and staff deployed was sufficient to register four million voters in one month.
Mr Hassan urged politicians to mobilise their supporters to register.
“It is possible to have everybody who did not register or who intends to register now to do it. If we have political goodwill and every politician mobilizes their supporters then we will get the numbers targeted despite the shortage of resources,” he said.
Mr Chilobah said they were determined to use the existing facilities to conduct the registration. “There should be no fears. We are working with the resources we have and we will deliver,” he said by phone.
The commission will issue a statement on Tuesday on the registration.
The chairman said the distribution of BVR machines will be determined by the population of various wards and that the IEBC staff will rotate in various stations in the respective wards to register those who turn up to do so.
“The registration will take place at ward level owing to constraints of budget. We cannot employ more than two registration assistants per ward,” said Mr Chilobah. According to him, no new registration centres will be created during this phase.
Mr Hassan explained that the commission was recruiting 2,878 voter registration assistants. “Due to lack of funds we are going to base the recruitment at the ward level with between two to three machines at work.”
But the opposition, which has in the past alleged a plot to rig the next elections, claimed the electoral commission’s plan to distribute the registration devices in wards as opposed to polling stations was illogical and may discourage voters from coming forward due to distance.
“People will go to one polling station and will be told the kit has moved to another station, it will become a moving target,” said Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu.
Mr Odinga has warned the IEBC that the Opposition will not accept any “tricks” intended to tilt the next elections.
“We will not go back to our people with a complaint that votes were stolen. As I have said before, we turned the other cheek in 2008 and in 2013. We will not do that again in 2017,” he said.
Reports by Aggrey Mutambo, Isaac Ongiri and Bernard Namunane