The recent Mathare by-election campaigns were held in peaceful atmosphere despite open and rampant voter bribery across board. The By-Election was occasioned by successful petition by Stephen Kariuki of ODM against George Wanjohi of TNA. The by-election attracted a total of nine candidates all targeting more than 80,000 registered voters from different ethnic background.
The leading political alliances Jubilee and CORD managed to invest a lot of resources in ensuring that their candidates captured the vacant seat. There are four reasons why the by-election was peaceful.
First during the previous elections in Mathare, there was always presence of gangs such as Mugiki, Taliban or violent youths ready to be hired by politicians. This time round, none existed to be hired by politicians.
Secondly, the heat generated before the Saba Saba rally which ended peacefully also encouraged the local residents to maintain peace. When the TNA candidate opted to woo only Kikuyu voters this became counterproductive even amongst his supporters. This resulted even in many young Kikuyu voters shunning Wanjohi of TNA for Stephen Kariuki of ODM who is a Kikuyu too.
Thirdly, of late there have been many forums organized by various organizations such Sisi ni Amani Kenya, Inuka, Sauti Yetu Debates and other government led initiatives which all played an important role in integrating people from different ethnic background to meet regularly
Fourthly, when President Uhuru visited Mathare for a church service cum campaign trip for TNA candidate at Redeemed Gospel Church he never openly told the residents to vote Wanjohi rather he talked more about referendum politics and which Raila did later. The President body language betrayed his mission in Mathare thus helping cool the temperature down.
The heavy presence of police cannot be attributed to the peaceful election but can be praised for ensuring law and order was maintain during elections. However it was disappointing to note that most political party agents did not know how a BVR Kits operate. At the end of it all, Mathare has a new MP…Hon. Stephen Kariuki.
Mathare Constituency is home to one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Nairobi and also in Kenya. When the Constituency Development Fund was making allocations for 2013/2014, it was announced that the constituency is host to more than 70,000 people who live below poverty.
Since 2013, there has been a lot of movement surrounding Women Fund, Youth Fund and Uwezo Funs plus 30% of government tender set aside to for youth and women. To access these funds, communities need to be engaged and involved. Participation by community members depends on how well informed is community will be.
For the last three years, Inunka Kenya under the banner of Sauti Debates have been organizing Community Forums in Mlango Kubwa, Hospital, Mabatini,Ngei, Huruma and Kiamaiko wards in Mathare Constituency to create awareness amongst community members and engage elected leaders in discussing priority areas. Experience from these debates has shown that five mains issues that have kept on emerging are security, education, health, environment and poor governance.
Observing these debates in session one will appreciate the willingness by community members to participate in these sessions. Regular leaders who have co-operated to participate in these forums are Hon. Andrew Macharia of Mlango Kubwa, Hon. Dan Mutiso Ngei, Hon. Jimmy Kinuthia while Mabatini Ward County Rep. Hon Odalo (Rafuok) has not been having an easy time with high expectations from community which sometimes has even resulted into almost physical confrontation.
It is clear from Sauti Yetu Debates that community members knows what the problem is, while leaders hide behind the policy guidelines governing management of the funds. On the other hand, it is Hon. Andrew Macharia from Mlango Kubwa has hinted in traducing bills at the Nairobi County Assembly parliament that the community would benefit from. Community members have had difficult time understanding the role of elected leaders hence leading to high expectation beyond their mandate. Sauti Yetu Debates have been able to fill in the information gap that is experienced during debate. Currently Sauti Yetu Debates is being handover to experience community based organization to continue organizing such forums in future.
The living condition in places like Mathare and the level of neglect by the government warrants quick measure by the residents to hold public servants accountable.
In some quarters it is said that 60% of Nairobi residents live under deplorable conditions.No existence of important service is a common feature.
Launching of the local Ombudsman Committee, ten members in Mathare has come at time when we have several government services being devolved at ward levels. The Mathare Constituency Ombudsman Committee will be based at Mathare Valley Polytechnic next to Mathare Chief’s Camp.
It is hoped that unlike before when resident did not know where to report, this time round things will be different.
Cases of police harassment, lack of responding on time to emergencies like fire outbreak are common. Kenyans are yet to fully trust that systems work like the judiciary and accessing proper justice for slum dwellers in still a pipe dream in Kenya.
With the office coming closer to the people, it is time for people to seize the opportunity and hold all public servant accountable. When forceful evictions occur this time round, we hope it will be investigated and proper action be taken against any public official abetting the vice.
Case Handling Levels see the website: (http://www.ombudsman.go.ke).
On 29th November 2012 political representatives and aspirants for the constituency and ward, NGOs / CBOs representatives, religious leaders, elders, youths, people with disability women representatives and provincial administration gathered at Mathare Valley Polytechnic to be addressed by the local IEBC representatives.
IEBC had their agenda while most people had questions, which they wanted addressed. IEBC wanted to sensitize public about voter registration in Mathare constituency, perception on the public on BVR kit, public, violence, role model and morality. When it came to questions, public were more concerned about accessing identity cards, extension of voter registration, transportation of voters into Mathare, voter education and the process which was used to recruit educators, what are the current numbers of registered voters and target for each ward? From the meeting it was clear that the public agenda and that of IEBC was different.
The IEBC official(s) present informed the public on the progress as from 19/11/2012 a follows but these figures were given as estimates (only for the 1st week of registration)
|Ward||Target Expected||1st wk registered voters|
During the meeting, an aspirant brought a public address system to the meeting, which the public rejected. The IEBC officials should have rejected this move. By accepting ‘resources’ to facilitate an IEBC meeting from an aspirant amounts to being compromised.
The meeting was on a short notice. It was clear that supporters of certain politicians were more than others. IEBC needs to ensure that all aspirants are invited on time and their apologies acknowledged otherwise the public will view IEBC as collaborating with certain sections of the community. The public seems to be unclear on the new boundaries since it causing confusion among the potential voters. In Hospital ward for example, the Kenya Gazette had indicated that Gitathuru and Mathare 4B are still in Mabatini Ward. IEBC ward educators are expected to sensitize the public on the boundaries and other voter’s related issues. The Mathare area District Officer was very categorical that all residents have a duty to ensure that the elections are peaceful both at the party nomination and national elections. Public expect a credible election and IEBC officials should act in ways that will boost public confidence in the process.- Simon
Walking around most vote registration centers, one notices low voter turnout. There is urgent need for IEBC to undertake a vigorous voter registration mobilization campaign otherwise we might not meet the target. In all the six wards, there is very little activity going on compared with the interest generated during acquisition process of BVR kits. One would have expected people flock the centres.
In the community people are going around doing their own business and hoping that as usual the deadline will be extended to accommodate their time schedule. The aspirants are busy marketing themselves.- Simon