Kenya: Concern as Coast Residents Keep Off Voters' Registration Exercise

20 October 2021

Coast politicians have raised concerns over persistent apathy in the ongoing mass voter registration even as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) cites low resources for robust mobilization and voter education among challenges affecting the exercise.

With only 15 days remaining to the end of the mass registration exercise, as of Sunday, the region had netted only 13 percent of the target, registering a paltry 48, 128 new voters against a target of 357, 040.

So far as of last Sunday, Kilifi had registered 16,439 (10 percent) new voters out of a target of over 160,181 voters, Mombasa 10, 609 against 95, 118 (11 percent), Kwale 9,533 against 45, 743 (21 percent), Tana River 4, 547 against 19, 246 (24 percent), Lamu 2, 248 against 11, 342 (20 percent) and Taita Taveta 4786 against 25, 410 (19 percent).

Coast politicians have now been forced to go to the drawing board to ensure they register new voters. Among the strategies include sensitizing residents to register as voters ahead of the 2022 general elections.

In Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi and Magarini MP Michael Kingi met IEBC officers led by commissioner Irene Masit and the Kilifi County Elections Manager Abdiwahid Hussein, to discuss the progress of the ongoing voter registration in his county.

"I briefed me on the progress of the ongoing voter registration in our county. I will be holding meetings with our MCAs to make sure that more sensitization is undertaken to ensure all eligible voters in Kilifi county are enlisted in readiness for voting next year," said Mr Kingi.

Kilifi leaders have agreed to roll out a more elaborate and robust campaign to register many voters in the county.

In Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho recently launched a massive voter registration drive to ensure that many new voters are registered however the county has only registered 10, 606 against a 95, 118 target in week two.

Mr Joho called on the residents to turn up in numbers and exercise their civic duty.

"Let us not have voter apathy as it is our duty as citizens to participate in ensuring that our voices are heard. The higher numbers of voters will help the region be on the bargaining table for the national cake," Mr Joho said while wooing the youths to register as voters.

Politicians led by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir, his Likoni counterpart Mishi Mboko, Mombasa woman representative Asha Hussein and senator Mohammed Faki have been conducting mass registration campaigns in the county.

The four have been traversing the entire county campaigning for their party leader Raila Odinga and Mr Nassir to succeed Governor Joho.

"We must get more voters in order to achieve our goal of electing our party leader Mr Raila Odinga to the statehouse," said Ms Mboko.

In Kwale, deputy governor Fatuma Achani has been calling upon residents to register as voters.

On Monday, Ms Masit said the vastness of the county was a challenge for the registration clerks to reach the most remote areas.

"It is a challenge for our officers to move the kits from one place to the other due to the vastness of the county," she said.

However, Ms Masit said the commission had a consultation meeting with the Kilifi County Commissioner, Mr Kutswa Olaka, to find a way to support the exercise. She also held a meeting with Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi on the same.

"The two leaders have assured us that they will support us with the logistics to enable the kits to reach the remote areas of the county,

Mr Hussein said voter registration turnout is still low despite efforts by officers to inform the public.

Mr Hussein said they are aware that there are enough National Identification cards released to youths, but the turnout is still poor.

"About 137,000 ID cards were issued, but we are still having a challenge in voter apathy and turnout. People are not coming out to register even with the many efforts we have put in place.

The youth are not coming out to register as voters," he said.

He called on the youth to come out in masses and be registered.

"It is the 15th day and in the middle of the exercise, but the turnout is not good, but we can still meet our targets in the remaining days. We are appealing to the youth to come out and get registered," he added.

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