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Voter transfer as Jubilee plots to turn tables in battle for Nairobi

By Gakuu Mathenge | January 15th 2017
Nairobi gubernatorial aspirants Dennis Waweru (MP Dagoretti South), Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru and nominated MP Johnson Sakaja during the Jubilee Party membership recruitment launch at Kasarani Stadium, Nairobi on Friday.

Jubilee Party’s scramble for Nairobi governor’s seat has triggered a massive voter importation into the city to the tune of 166,000 voters by Tuesday this week.

Sources at the Independent, Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) say of all 134,670 new voters registered in Nairobi by June 30, last year, some 104,4039 (74.6 per cent) were transfers – popularly referred to as voter importation - from another place to the city.

This week, the Jubilee Party declared that it was taking no chances in its determination to wrestle Nairobi from the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), announcing it had dropped an earlier pledge for nominations in favour of “consensus”.

In a no-holds barred approach to take Nairobi, a meeting at Deputy President William Ruto’s Karen residence on Monday night ruled out a competitive nomination process for all key elective positions in Nairobi - governor, senator and all the 17 parliamentary seats. Although the official list was not yet public, sources say former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth has been identified for governor, with Philip Kisia as running mate, Ms Millicent Omanga for Women Representative, Ms Rachel Shebesh for nomination to the Senate, Mike Sonko to retain his Senate position, and Dennis Waweru ‘persuaded’ to seek re-election as Dagoretti South MP.

Former TNA chair and nominated MP Johnson Sakanja is to be given a soft landing as advisor at State House, while Bishop Margaret Wanjiru is to be ‘comforted’ out of the race with a Cabinet Secretary job.

The secret deal also included a clause to expand the Jubilee parliamentary presence in the city through “consensus” (read direct nomination) of non-Kikuyu candidates in constituencies held by ODM in the city.

“The model is designed to attract non-Kikuyu votes and boost the ticket with Kikuyu voting blocs. This is what Shebesh meant at Kasarani on Thursday when she said all other communities need to be represented in the city,” a source said.

The proposal for constituencies held by Kikuyu MPs was not yet clear, just as the fate of Water CS Eugene Wamalwa, who had declared interest in Nairobi’s governor’s race.

One of his campaign team leader David Kang’ethe yesterday said: “Eugene is yet to tell us if we are disbanded or still on course. But now that JP had zeroed on Peter Kenneth implies all other aspirants, Eugene included, have to seek something else.”

On Monday, the DP is said to have read the riot act that the Jubilee’s “consensus” formula was final to avoid splitting the single most populous Kikuyu voter bloc in the city. “Nairobi controls over 45 per cent of the country’s economy, we do not want jokes. Three or four people cannot make JP lose the Nairobi seat and the more than 300 job opportunities that come with it,” he said.

In 2013, CORD’s Evans Kidero became the inaugural governor of Nairobi when he won a tightly constested race to beat his closest rival from the Jubilee side, Ferdinand Waititu, with the thinnest of margins (74,000 votes) attracting 692,490 votes against Waititu’s 618,047.

Considering the third runners up in 2013 constest, city investment banker Jimna Mbaru, got 52,510 votes, the new import of 104,439 voters significantly alters the city’s voter demographics.

IEBC data shows Nairobi had 1,728,180 registered voters in 2013, which has since gone up to 1,832,291 by June 30, 2016. A random check of voter transfer data from neigbouring counties showed Kiambu as most robust, with Gatundu South constituency registering the highest transfers by June 2016 where 4,135 new voters were registered, while 15,839 (383% rate) voters transferred from the constituency.

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