Homa Bay, Kenya; Orange Democratic Movement’s Moses Kajwang’ is the new Homa Bay senator-elect, beating his closest challenger Philip Okundi of the Maendeleo Democratic Party by over 80,000 votes, a landslide win by all means.
By the time of our going to press, Kajwang’ had 111,007 votes from 780 polling centres out of 816, while Okundi had 24,878 votes, with voter turn-out at 50 per cent.
Coming a very distant third was Fred Rabongo of National Agenda Party followed by Benard Otieno of National Vision Party and independent candidates Hilary Ochieng, Onyango Alila, Edwin Matete, Medo Luke Misama and Innocent Otieno.
As the reality of the margin of Kajwang’s victory dawned, claims of voter bribery, ballot stuffing and harassment of agents flew in thick and fast, with the successor of the late Otieno Kajwang’s seat no longer in doubt.
Rival candidates traded accusations about the conduct of the polls that were marked by low voter turnout in the early hours. It was alleged that the Electronic Voter Identification Devices failed to function in some voting centres, forcing Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials to identify voters using the manual register.
All the 816 polling centres opened at 6am, but only a few voters trickled in. Despite the slow start, candidates turned up to vote in their respective polling stations.
ODM party candidate Moses Kajwang’ did not vote because he is registered as a voter in Ruaraka constituency in Nairobi County, but escorted his parents and other family members to cast their votes at Waondo Primary School in his Mbita constituency.
Hillary Alila voted at Homa Bay Youth Polytechnic in Homa Bay Town constituency at 7am, Philip Okundi at Kuoyo Kochia Primary School in Rangwe constituency at 10.35am and National Agenda Party’s Fred Rabongo at Kamsama Primary School in Mbita constituency.
ODM officials led by Kisumu Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o, Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang’ and Eliud Owalo alleged voter bribery and intimidation. “We are aware of voter bribery and intimidation that has happened at Oriwo, Nyangwete in Karachuonyo and Olare in Rangwe. We have reported this to IEBC,” Nyong’o said.
He claimed the heavy presence of security personnel was to blame for the low voter turnout in the early hours.
But ODM’s laments were dismissed by Rabongo, Okundi, Misama, Alila and Karachuonyo MP James Rege, who accused the party of rigging through vote stuffing, violence, intimidation and use of county resources to influence the outcome of the vote.
Okundi accused ODM of attacking and evicting his agents from a number of polling stations in Ndhiwa, Karachuonyo, Homa Bay Town, Kabondo Kasipul and Rangwe constituencies.
He cited Ringa, Dudi, Kojwach, Lwanda, Riwa and Kanjira as among polling stations where ODM officials openly bribed voters.
In Suba constituency, Okundi claimed a vehicle belonging to the Homa Bay county government was spotted with its occupants giving money to voters. “Some of the people responsible for the said bribery have been arrested and remanded at Kendu Bay Police Station,” he alleged.
The former Rangwe MP cited Asumbi, Malele, Marindi, Kasibos, Andu Koliech, Migunde, North Kabuoch and Ndiru as centres where agents were allegedly evicted.
“At Marindi, my agent Joseph Owaka was frogmarched from the polling station, undressed in public and beaten up in the presence of IEBC officials. He is seriously injured and admitted at Homa Bay County Hospital. ODM Karachuonyo organising Secretary Okano Nyasanga, who is my supporter, has been seriously injured in Wang’chieng ward. We are calling on IEBC to disqualify Kajwang’,” said Okundi.
He also accused ODM of using two members of the county assemblies from Ndhiwa and Karachuonyo constituencies to bribe voters.
Rabongo singled out Kasipul constituency as an area where ODM messed up the voting.
“At Ongino and Kokwanyo polling centres, my agents found ballot boxes stuffed with ballot papers bearing the name of Moses Kajwang’ before the voting began. All the agents were forced to open the ballot boxes to throw away the ballot papers,” Rabongo said. “At Nyabondo Primary, a senior county government officer in a county vehicle was seen bribing voters,” he said
Prof Misama alleged that many of his agents in Suba and Ndhiwa constituencies were thrown out of the polling stations without proper reasons.
“My agents were ejected from a number of polling stations including Sindo and Ndhiwa primary schools for reasons I could not understand. I feel deprived of fairness in this election,” Misama said. He vowed to instruct his chief agents not give his consent over the manner in which the election was conducted.
Rege accused his ODM party of planning to violate the rights of other candidates in the by-election.
“I am disappointed by the manner in which ODM leaders are behaving. This is an election that should be conducted peacefully. It is wrong to attack people who are exercising their democratic rights,” said Rege.
Alila said he would not accept the results if IEBC did not address the problems raised by candidates.