SECTIONS

What next for those registered in political parties fraudulently?

President Uhuru Kenyatta during ODM National Delegates Congress at Kasarani.

Colleagues, friends and Kenyans have been checking the website of the Registrar of Political Parties to find out to which political parties they have been fraudulently registered as members. To their shock, many found that they were registered as members of political parties they don’t know or support.

The majority would wish to remain party-less. When I checked my status, I was shocked to find that I was registered as a party member, when I never applied to be so registered. I got help and de-registered myself and hopefully no one will fraudulently register me again.

While political parties must have a national character and therefore draw membership from around the country, they cannot fraudulently acquire our personal details including our identification details and use them without our permission to register us as their members.

Surely there must a penalty for this, no? I am able to go to this website and delete my forced registration, what about all those people all over Kenya who have no access to internet and may not know how to self-de-register from these political parties? What will happen during nominations with all these fake memberships? Electoral laws require that candidates are nominated by varying numbers of registered voters in the constituency where they are seeking to be elected.

While it is easy to verify the fact that these are registered voters, it will be difficult to verify indeed that these names and ID numbers have been secured voluntarily. Is there a way in which the relevant bodies can call the bluff of these political parties?

It appears like treachery and dishonesty are not punishable in the political arena and therefore, political parties can get away with fraudulently registering people unbeknown to them and using their private data and other related information.

How can this be curbed? The Data protection laws are not proactive enough and the institutions charged with this function may not be able to know that political parties circumvent the law, steal peoples’ data and use them to pretend they have national membership. This is not a joke. It is an insidious invasion of people’s privacy and it is illegal. Millions of Kenyans are registered as members of political parties they have never heard of!

This being another form of corruption and electoral irregularity, should be addressed. Sadly, all the registered political parties are guilty of this.

Political parties are the first to accuse the IEBC of not cleaning and updating their voters register and yet they themselves are no better. In fact, unlike the IEBC, they are breaking the law. It is almost impossible for the Registrar of political parties to audit these registers to ascertain whether the people presented in the registers of political parties as members are indeed genuine members.

Therefore, political parties need to exercise self-discipline and remove names of people they have been fraudulently included as members without their permission. Most of these political parties have enough supporters without getting involved in data theft and other serious irregularities. It is in their interests to abide by the rule of law and to ensure they do not loose support of some of us by forcefully and fraudulently registering us as their members.

I am very upset that a political party stole my personal data and fraudulently registered me as their member and I am sure many more Kenyan voters share my sentiments. Further, I am certain that all those people fraudulently registered as members of certain political parties when they support other political parties will equally be miffed.

I can’t imagine what people in the villages will feel to discover that they are members of parties they either have never heard of or do not support. Since the political parties have been involved in this generalized fraud, we can only conclude that they have no qualms in breaching the law and if they can do this, what else can they do while we are unaware?

Voters be vigilant.