President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Central backyard has reported the lowest turnout in the ongoing mass voter listing initiated by the IEBC last Monday.
IEBC data shows that seven counties from the region’s 10 are among the those with the lowest percentages of the new voter targets.
At the same time, politicians appear to be moving voters from other regions considering the over 5,200 voter transfer requests IEBC received in the past seven days.
Whereas IEBC targets to list over 385,000 new voters in Kiambu, only 2,334 was recorded in the first week, translating to one percent.
Nyeri recorded 1,915 out of the target of 148,995 voters – one per cent. Nyandarua recorded 1,495 from a county target of 109,652 new voters.
Murang’a county reported 3,259 new voters of the targeted 191,545 with Laikipia listing 1,664 from a target of 80,231 new voters.
Embu and Kirinyaga counties recorded 2,102 and 2,376 new voters respectively, albeit beating Kitui which has for the past one week recorded 2,324 of its target of 154, 341 voters.
Analysts have projected that the succession race could be heavily determined by the first time voters.
Political heavyweights such as the Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) and a host of elected leaders across the political divide have been rallying their support bases to turn out and register as voters.
The DP and the ANC boss last week separately released videos recorded in sheng targeting the youth who stand to determine the winner of the August 9,2022 presidential race.
While in Kilgoris, Narok county, on Thursday where he met hundreds of youths, the DP said that their voter’s card will give them the authority to put in place a government that will address their issues and aspirations.
“Do not be bystanders. Register as a voter and rally behind a government that will define your destiny,” Ruto said.
Raila has asked political leaders in his strongholds to mobilise eligible youths to get national identity cards and register as voters to enable them to participate in next year’s polls.
“You cannot win the presidency race by mere talk and without adequate votes. Let the youth in Nyanza take the issue of voter registration seriously, so we can go to war with a full army,” the former Prime Minister said recently at a burial ceremony in Ragwe, Homa Bay county.
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho on Saturday and Sunday led voter sensitisation in Nairobi.
“The hallmark of democracy is to have the right to choose the future you deserve. Voting is the one exercise that gives the power to every adult individual in this country to make a decision to put the country on a trajectory of progress and prosperity,” Joho posted on his Facebook page.
On Tuesday last week , Mount Kenya Unity Forum annouced that they would be leading campaigns to ensure the region registers at least three million new voters.
“Every vote counts and it’s the right and civic duty of every Kenyan to exercise their democratic right. As members of the Mount Kenya Unity Forum, we call upon all eligible Kenyans within Mount Kenya catchment and diaspora to come forward and register,” Martha Karua , the spokeperson of the outfit, said in a statement at Karen Hospital where Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria is admitted.
Mombasa, whose Governor Joho has been rallying other regions to register, was also rated among the lowest at 4,486 new voters against a target of 190,237.
Nairobi, which had the highest listing at 16,151 new voters, has also recorded the lowest percentage compared with its target of 732,568.
Observers hold that the low turnout in the President’s backyard could be stemming from the fact that the region has no clear candidate in the Uhuru 2022 succession race.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria are among the region’s leaders who have declared interest in succeeding Uhuru but their teams are just taking shape and are yet to go full throttle in their campaigns.
Mt Kenya leaders Amos Kimunya (Kipipiri MP) and his Kieni counterpart Kanini Kega agree that the region’s lack of an express presidential candidate could be informing the low turnout.
“That is a possibility but traditionally the rush is at the tail end,” Kimunya, who is also Majority leader of the National Assembly, told the Star on Monday.
For his part, Kega said it could be true that the numbers were informed by the fact that the region has no frontrunner.
“That could be true. However, we naturally always rush at the last minute. We are going to up our game,” the Kieni legislator said.
Kega, who is also chairman Budget committee of the National Assembly, urged Kenyans to desist from waiting until the last minute to register saying there would be no extension of the listing owing to lack of funds.
“As chair of budget, we are not extending the voter registration…let them take advantage of this opportunity. Do not wait until the last minute,” he said.
Kega said the numbers disclosed by the IEBC would inform the next course of action in the campaign to list more voters.
“Now that we have the data, we are alive to that fact of what is needed of us. The numbers will pick next week. We will go to the ground and mobilise people to register,” Kega said.
In this respect, Mt Kenya Jubilee MPs are set to hold a meeting on Thursday to chart plans on how to improve the numbers.
And in what could worry the Raila Odinga-led side, none of the Nyanza counties was in the top ten, dominated by Rift Valley counties where Deputy President William Ruto enjoys a solid following.
Seven out of 10 top counties straddle the Rift Valley with Samburu having the highest percentage of turnout at eight per cent.
IEBC targeted 27,059 new voters in the county and recorded 2,128 in the first week followed by Elgeyo Marakwet’s seven per cent being 3,889 of the targeted 58,856.
West Pokot followed closely at six per cent having listed 3,585 of the targeted 58,675 new voters whereas Nandi recorded 6,319 new voters against a target of 112,925.
Baringo county recorded 4,225 new voters from the set 76,146, translating to six per cent followed by Narok at five per cent with 6,007 new listings against 111,278.
Turkana recorded 3,275 new voters from a target of 62,500 to be in top 10 alongside Wajir, Mandera, and Tana River counties which IEBC hailed as having performed well.
Overall, the commission recorded a 13 per cent achievement having registered a total of 202,518 new voters from first week target of 1.5 million.
IEBC targets to register six million new voters on the basis of the data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics 2019 Census report.
The commission, in a statement on Monday, said it has hired voter mobilisers in the 290 constituencies to create awareness of the listing.
“We call upon the media to sustain the publicity to bolster the voter registration efforts,” IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said, asking Kenyans to avoid the last minute rush.
“All Kenyans are therefore called upon to join in this effort to ensure that majority of eligible voters get registered.”
He attributed the low turn out to general voter apathy, insecurity in Lamu, Baringo, and Laikipia, lack of IDs among youth of voting age, and the culture of last minute rush.
Chebukati cited the case of 2017 where Kenyans did not optimally utilise the early days to register leading to a mad rush and long queues in the last days.
“Let us reverse this trend by shedding off the tag of ‘last-minute Kenyan rush’,” the IEBC chairman said.