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How IEBC Is Sabotaging Voter Registration In Thika

 With about two weeks already gone since the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission (IEBC) kicked off voter listing, most registration centres continue to record poor turnout. This is despite the rigorous campaign among various leaders to mobilise residents to register as voters.

The IEBC has been heard blaming this state of affairs on apathy, lack of ID cards and discontent among voters. Nothing can be far from the truth than this.

A spot check on various registration centres in Thika Town Constituency plus interviews with several potential voters, revealed a totally different picture altogether. This problem is man-made and seems very deliberate. Someone somewhere does not want people to register as voters. Whoever it is and the reasons behind their actions, I do not know.

The exercise was deliberately designed to fail from the word go. First, it is being conducted with too much secrecy, denying the masses the relevant information.

Very few people are aware about the Timetable Schedule of mobile registration centres by IEBC. Majority of the people have been visiting the centres they used in the 2013 elections only to find no one to register them. This is frustrating many of them into dismissing the whole exercise altogether.

Considering that each ward was assigned only one BVR Kit, and with no one to communicate where they will be stationed next, it is almost impossible for people to know where to go for registration.

For instance, Thika Township Ward has more than 10,000 eligible voters and covers this vast region of Kiandutu, Athena, Hospital/Thika Technical Institute, Thika CBD, Section 2 & 9 Riverside, Ngoingwa and Karibaribi. How do IEBC expect all these people, to know where they will be stationed next?

That is the reason why, as at 2:00pm today, the registration centre at Thika Post office had only registered 219 new voters since last Monday. That is an average of 20 people per day.

Mind you, a majority of those who have turned up in these centres only want to verify their documentation and whether their names were in the list of eligible voters or came to transfer from another polling station.

A visit to the IEBC Thika offices gave us a first-hand experience of all what the common mwananchi is going through.

None of the IEBC officials is making any efforts to make this schedule public. Due to public demand, Thika Town Today accompanied several other media houses to try and get this schedule as well as share with the official how best we could assist the public. These visits turned out fruitless as none of these officials was willing to divulge any information nor talk to the media. The media got tossed around between the Thika Town office (Near Huduma Centre) and the regional headquarters at the National Cereals & Produce Board in Makongeni.

In both cases, we were turned away and dismissed like rubbish. Nancy Kariuki, the Thika Region Contact Person, refused to talk to us, directing one of her juniors to send us away.

First, she lied of her whereabouts when we called her via the phone, saying that she was not in the office yet when we went to the office she was in. They also refused to say how the whole exercise was going on and what challenges they were facing in the process. 
They dismissed us by giving us the contacts of one Mr. Kaburia who they said was responsible for the Thika Town Constituency data. Upon calling Kaburia, he claimed to be in Nairobi for the Law Society of Kenya’s (LSK) elections.
Our team went back to the office in Thika where again the officers who were manning the station got so rude, dismissed us and literally closed the office at 1:30pm and left.

It is a fact that residents rely on the media, social media and opinion leaders for information. IEBC on its part has not educated voters.

IEBC intends to register eight million new voters before the next General Election in 2017, with at least four million voters in the first phase of the exercise that kicked off on the 15th of February. I believe this is just a pipe-dream if this is the way they are going to handle the whole exercise.

As for our leaders, especially the political class, it was the high time you came out strongly and ensured that all your constituents acquired this very vital document. Otherwise, you too can as well keep quiet and stop bugging us with this voter registration issue.

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