The Provisional national voter registration results posted by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) since it launched the mass registration exercise two weeks ago, paints a grim picture of things to come at the 2017 general elections.
That is unless there is a massive total turn-around in the voter response between now and the expiry of the exercises’ deadline on February 14th, 2017 in response to the frantic efforts by the political leaders from both sides of the country’s political divide urging those un-registered to take up the opportunity.
The other possibility is the perennial usual massive last minute rush to register that may push particularly the politicians to demand for the extension of the deadline to give those who missed a chance to register.
At the moment it is not easy to tell whether the trend is going to continue at the dismal pace, degenerate or explode into the above mentioned scenarios, but on the whole out of the country’s eight former provincial regions, it is only North Eastern and Central that have anything to smile about their performance.
This are followed by the expansive Rift Valley, the Coastal region and the former Eastern province which scored over 50 per cent turn out as far as the target figures documented by the IEBC indicate.
However, the results raise critical questions at this stage of the exercise the most critical being whether this is a clear sign of voter apathy gripping the country’s populace? Is it because of the hard economic times considering the ever rising cost of living in an economy starved of money circulation and income?
Therefore are the people burdened with survival priorities than taking up their constitutional right to register as voters? Are they going to respond to the aggressive campaigns to register led by President Uhuru Kenyatta, his opposition opponent Raila Odinga, his Deputy William Ruto and Odinga’s allies Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetangula and Kalonzo Musyoka?
Will this low state of response to the registration exercise translate into the same pathetic state at the general elections in turning out to vote? Will the worst affected regions remain the same as the IEBC statistics below indicate when it comes to voting?
What will be the consequences to the ruling duo in power or those aspiring to dethrone them in the opposition?
Indeed at the moment the battle lines for the 2017 general elections are squarely drawn between the ruling Jubilee with President Kenyatta defending his seat with his running mate and the nascent National Super Alliance (ANC) which is yet to announce its choice of the three principals – Odinga Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Musalia Mudavadi – Amani National Congress and Kalonzo Musyoka – Wiper.
Winning the Presidency at the next general is a tyranny of numbers for any of the candidates seeking any of the elective positions that are going to be available right from the Presidency through the Senate, National Assembly, Gubernatorial all the way to the County Assemblies.
At a glance it is clear that President Kenyatta’s stronghold in Central Kenya voters made a fairly sterling performance in registering at 87 per cent, closely followed by his Deputy’s Rift Valley with 60 per cent – though North Eastern whose target in numbers was lowest outdid every other region with a 92 per cent voter turnout.
According to the IEBC data North Eastern region saw 24,006 people register weekly as voters, falling short of the target of 26,108 giving it a 92 percent voter turnout and the highest of the eight regions.
The statics from President Kenyatta’s Central region show that it registered 139, 876 voters against an IEBC target of 160,288 voters was the second to record a high turnout at 87 percent.
Whereas that from his Deputy’s region of Rift Valley, 169,371 people registered as voters against the expected 282,084 which was a 60 percent turnout – the Central and Rift Valley are considered strongholds for the ruling Jubilee.
The IEBC data however does not show the break down between the predominantly Kalenjin occupied North Rift Valley and that of the predominantly Maasai dominated Rift Valley South.
The Coastal Region which is considered an opposition stronghold had a 58 percent turnout had 95,681 voters registered against a target of 163,811.
The region where opposition leader Musyoka hails from Eastern Region had a 57 percent registration turnout after 127,580 voters registered against the target of 223,003.
While the home of President Kenyatta’s nemesis Raila Odinga Nyanza and the Cosmopolitan Nairobi City each had 48 percent registration turnout with the latter recording 95,966 against the expected 199,624 and Nyanza registering 95,945 against a target of 199,308.
However the biggest irony is the one that is home to the Luhyia community that is considered the second largest in the country, and home for Mudavadi Western region recorded the lowest voter registration turnout at 43 percent with 75,193 against the expected 173,143.
At the end of the exercise the IEBC has declared that it is targeting to register between 4 to 6 million voters, while interestingly has declared its targeting to capture 5 million new voters but the opposition appears not to be clear on its targeted numbers.
What is clear is the fact the perceived opposition strongholds must pull-up their socks with no barrels spared in leading un-registered voters in their strongholds otherwise risk being trounced hands down at the 2017 general electioneering.
It has since emerged that whereas the ruling Jubilee leaders are holding voter registration rallies not only in their strongholds but throughout the country’s regions, in their strongholds they go a step further by doing door to door mobilization of voters to go and register.
However on the contrary their opposition competitors are only relying on mobilization through public rallies where they extort the voters to massively register but failing to go a step further to mount equally massive door to door mobilization to counter their ruling opponents.
It is obvious from the IEBC provisional data that of all the Presidential aspirants Mudavadi has the tallest order and mountainous challenge to mobilize the second largest population in the country of western region for door to door massive blanket voter registration not only at home but also in Nairobi and turnout on the polling day – reason is simple because that huge powerful voting bloc is lagging behind.
Effective consolidation of a powerful and tightly unified voting bloc does not just begin and end with rallies extorting voters to register, but also if necessary going door to door to lead by example all the way through the campaign period to the polling day to identify yourselves with the voters as their clear choices.
While the exercise is taking steam some analysts are already saying that the excellent turnout in particularly Central Kenya is mainly because of the effective exploitation of the Raila phobia that is reportedly deeply entrenched among the majority of the communities living in the region.
However what must not be forgotten is that it is an open secret that many politicians in various parts of the country are at this particular moment in time ferrying voters across many electoral boundaries to their targeted elective areas to register as voters and back to their homes.
As it has already been reported that all these is going on at a fee depending on the financial might of the politician executing the operation and the entire process will be repeated come the day of casting the ballot papers.
It must also not be forgotten that this is one of the levels of the electioneering process where rigging is set in place just to wait for the voting and counting days.