5 July 2013

Kenya: Where, When, How Did Kethi Register As a Voter?

Nairobi — A passport that expired in 2001, a 'faint' photocopy of her lost national Identity Card and an acknowledgment slip dated 2011, a year before the IEBC conducted a countrywide listing of voters - is Diana Kethi Kilonzo really a registered voter?

This is the puzzle that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Disputes Resolution Committee must unravel as it seeks to shed some light on the controversial issue that has taken the country by storm.

These issues were brought to the fore on Friday by a lawyer representing the IEBC, Kimani Muhoro, when he was grilling Kethi on her nomination for the Makueni senatorial by-election.

It emerged that Kethi's slip showed that she was registered in 2011, more than a year before Biometric Voter Registration kicked off; that she was registered at the NCC Social Hall in Karen but IEBC records show that the slip's code belongs to the St. Mary School in Karen and that it also bears details of a slip that was not in distribution in Nairobi.

And things developed an even darker twist when she was asked what time she registered as a voter. Her response and that of the IEBC lawyer left many people in the filled courtroom tongue-tied.

"I think I registered as a voter sometime in the afternoon," Kethi said as she responded to Muhoro's question.

"Are you sure? Because your card says 11:25 am.," argued Muhoro.

And despite all the glaring irregularities, Kethi insisted that she was not the custodian of the IEBC records and could not therefore explain how they had come about.

She also revealed that she did not vote in the March 4 General Election although in an earlier interview with a local television station, she said she had.

"Do you want us to believe that it is only you who got such a mixed up card? It is obvious that your slip has a lot of discrepancies," noted Muhoro.

Kethi also maintained that the IEBC voters' register had issues and there were several instances where people whose names were not in the register actually voted.

The Makueni County Returning Officer Salad Boru Guracha, who cleared Kethi's nomination, was also examined as a witness.

Guracha admitted to clearing Kethi for the by-election even though he had not verified that she was indeed a registered voter.

"Are you aware that when IEBC staff keyed in the slip that is in Kethi's possession, but with the year 2012, it brought the name Geoffrey Muiruri?" Muhoro asked.

Hearings continue on Saturday morning and the disputes committee chaired by Thomas Letangule is expected to make its determinations on Monday.

Philip Kaloki's clearance is also in dispute and his case will be heard on Saturday.

The IEBC is short of time but Letangule still had a difficult time persuading the lawyers to keep their questions to the bare minimum.

But whatever the committee decides will definitely make headlines and perhaps ruffle certain feathers the wrong way. What remains to be seen is whether or not Kethi's and Kaloki's names make it to the ballot paper for the July 22 poll.

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