Bribery claims, low voter turnout mark Embakasi South by-election

Friday April 05 2019

ODM's Embakasi South MP candidate Irshad Sumra makes a call after being denied access to a tallying centre at Chaminade Social hall in Mukuru kwa Njenga in Nairobi, April 5, 2019. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Bribery and intimidation allegations, as well as low voter turnout starkly marked the Embakasi South by-election as the main contestants accused each other of electoral misdemeanours.

The exercise was however smooth and peaceful, with polling stations experiencing no violence for the better part of Friday.

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna said they received a number of complaints from their agents and forwarded them to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

"Our agents have told us there are people bribing voters but our appeals to security officers to act are not being taken seriously. We will be forced to arrest the people ourselves," said Mr Sifuna.

"[Our agents said they] witnessed cases of voter bribery, particularly outside the polling station where their candidate voted."

He spoke at the Mukuru Education Centre polling centre where he went to cast his ballot, accompanied by ODM candidate Irshad Sumra.



Mr Sifuna also decried a low turnout, saying most of the people were still at work.

But he exuded confidence that the orange party candidate would carry the day if the process remained free, fair and credible.

The secretary-general and Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang later went to the main tallying centre to register their complaints with returning officer Abdikadir Abdulahi but did not find him.

"We are here to have a word with the returning officer over the bribery of voters which has been going on since morning. We just want our complaints captured in your occurrence book, " said Mr Kajwang'.


Mr Sumra spoke of voter bribery and unfairness on the part of the IEBC, alleging that some presiding officers and their deputies were former campaigners of his opponent, immediate former area MP Julius Mawathe.

He mentioned the names of about 12 of the officers, whom he linked to Mr Mawathe.

"We know they are with Mawathe and that they are campaigning for him. How then can they be allowed to lead this voting process? I don't know how the IEBC conducted their vetting," he said.

"At the time of counting, we will be aggressive as we do not want more bribery."

Mr Sumra also complained that the turnout was low but said he was certain he would be declared the winner.

The ODM candidate urged voters to come out in large numbers to exercise their democratic right.

"My fate lies with Embakasi South residents. I am very confident that they know my track record and that they will vote for me," he said.


Mr Mawathe did not answer phone calls and messages for comment on the claims by his ODM counterpart.

He earlier accused his rivals of employing intimidation tactics to keep voters from going to the polling stations.

The politician complained of three groups of "heavily built men" whom he said harassed voters, especially women, asking them whom they would support.

"They told them no voting was taking place in the area so they should stay at home. This is a strategy that my opponent [used] to ensure my supporters did not go out to vote," he claimed.

"We informed police about the youths. I know they will be dealt with."


Mr Mawathe also registered confidence in recapturing the seat he lost in December 2018 following a court nullification.

He said his was just a three-month "court leave" and that he would return to serve his constituents owing to his development record in the one year he was in office.

"We have two options - Mawathe to continue or Mawathe to continue. The problem was not mine but the IEBC's as the court said. I have faith in my people and I now leave it all to God, " he said at the Imara Daima polling station where he voted.

The Wiper Party candidate said he was impressed by the commission's preparedness and the turnout, but he noted it was not as impressive as it was in the August 2017 general election, as the vote took place on a work day.

He said that out of the 14 polling centres in the constituency, delays were experienced at only four and that solutions were effected.

"We had some problems in Kwa Reuben and Maendeleo polling centres, which took about two hours to be rectified. Things are now going on smoothly," he said.


The constituency, which has 150,314 registered voters and 221 polling stations, went to the polls after the seat fell vacant when Mr Sumra successfully petitioned Mr Mawathe's election.

He successfully challenged his rival's win at the Court of Appeal after High Court Judge Grace Nzioka dismissed his initial petition.

Mr Mawathe’s subsequent appeal at the Supreme Court did not stand as the court ruled that the results declared after the August 8, 2017 election were unsupported by evidence.

Also contesting in the by-elections are Ms Roseline Awino (MTP), Mr Ramesh Gorasia (DP), Mr Urbanas Kalumba (PNU), Mr Augustine Kavindu (GCK), Mr Samuel Masaki (FPK), Mr Zablon Minyonga (KNC) and Mr Alexander Mulatya (MCC).

Others are Mr Jairus Musyoka (GDDP), Mr Enosh Nyakweba (KSC), Mr Angela Nyalita(TAK), Mr Enock Nyaribari (RLP), Mr Peter Ogeta (PDU) and Mr Credius Oigara (JFP).

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati, who toured the polling stations early in the morning, asked the people to turn up.

“The polls opened at six o’clock and have been smooth throughout. I however call on registered voters to come out and vote, not just here in Embakasi but also in Ugenya. The exercise closes at five in the evening,” Mr Chebukati said.