Seven months to the General Election, focus is slowly shifting from lengthy agendas to numbers as two main presidential candidates in the August 8-scheduled poll; Jubilee Party’s Uhuru Kenyatta and his Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) counterpart Raila Odinga, get back to basics.
As with the previous polls, the outcome of the upcoming one could be decided by the month-long registration exercise which kicks off on Monday, January 16.
Swords have been drawn as both Jubilee and Cord coalitions prepare for a do-or-die battle for the all important votes as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) gear up for its final registration.
The ruling coalition wants to replicate its 2013 voter registration success even as the Opposition whose numbers were wanting then, works to make corrections learnt from its past mistakes. Both camps are leaving nothing to chance.
Incumbents, aspirants and supporters are being mobilised and both sides have set up special teams on the ground whose agenda will include urging eligible voters collect uncollected ID cards and join the queues.
The teams will closely follow the process and know where exactly the crucial eligible but unregistered voters are.
As is, more than 15.8 million Kenyans are registered to vote and the number is expected to rise to more than 24 million if the unregistered turn up, the electoral agency’s CEO Ezra Chiloba said on Monday, January 9.
The electoral body aims to add six million new voters into their roll, almost evenly shared between the two coalition’s strongholds. JP however has a 1 million head start.
During the registration exercise in March last year, only 1.4 million registered as voters, a far cry from the targeted four million. The shortfall was largely blamed on voter apathy, poor organisation and lack of education.
Orange Democratic Movement chief Raila Odinga divides blame in the 2013 loss between rigging and lack of turnout. Many vocal supporters were not eligible to vote.
But come August, the former Prime Minister is determined to own the Jubilee’s so called ‘tyranny of numbers’.
Deputy President William Ruto on Tuesday, January 10, was host to Jubilee Party elected leaders and aspirants from Rift Valley, he urged them to mobilise eligible voters to register.
While speaking at his Karen residence, the DP told those present that more than 1.6 million eligible voters in Jubilee’s Rift stronghold lack voters’ cards.