Kariokor Social Hall

This is an observation of Kenya’s General Elections on 8th August 2017.

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By Kenneth Jura

Yesterday, I was Ukweli Party’s chief agent at Kariokor Social Hall polling center. Before yesterday I had never known where Kariokor Social Hall was. First, I had to vote at my polling center, NSSF grounds, opposite GPO. I arrived at 5:25 am so that I can alert the presiding officer that I was a chief agent at a different polling center. 20 minutes later I spoke to the presiding officer of polling station number eight who assured me that I will vote first. I was however not listed to be on this polling station mine was station six or what you refer to as stream six.

At around 6:15 am materials for polling stations two, three, four and six arrived. They did their set up as I watched closely. Never mind that they had no tent. I was the first on this queue. An hour later the presiding officer announced the station was open but on opening the station using the KIEMS, Kenya Integrated Electoral Management System, kit it failed to authenticate. In 2013 IEBC had close to four different machines for its work. Biometric Voter Registration kit popularly known as BVR for registration of voters, CRMS – Candidate Registration Management System for use by political candidates during party primaries, Electronic Voter Identification Device (EVID) for use during elections and a different device for transmission, EVID was the device that did not work during the aforesaid elections and not BVR. KIEMS kit does all that.

Back at NSSF grounds, I allowed three elderly ladies to vote before me. One of them was either Dr. Joyce Nyairo’s mother in law or her mother. (I admire Joyce’s work as a social scientist, can someone pass this message to her)  She was accompanied by her two granddaughters. The polling station opened at 7:06 am but voting started at 8:05am. Unlucky for the three elderly ladies before me, their biometrics were not being captured so I voted first. By the time indelible ink was being put on my little finger the presiding officer had instructed his clerk to search for their details using their identification numbers.

Tear gas  

I saw Thomas Wamukoya of Reuters, we exchanged pleasantries and at 8:35 am I voted and off I went to Kariokor Social Hall, I was happy that the taxi driver, Owen Wangui knew where I was going. As I passed Moi Avenue Primary School polling center most of the voters were in the school compound. Earlier, I passed the center from home at around 5:00 am and the queue was at Globe Cinema roundabout. I arrived at Kariokor Social Hall grounds at 8:50 am. The first person I saw was David Mutua of CAFOD who was strapped with two cameras and some lenses on his hip.

Kariokor
Jubilee party nominations. Photo courtesy of Ghetto Radio

I identified myself to the presiding officer who took my letter of appointment and oath of secrecy and put it in a box. I asked to be given a badge but he said he did not have them. His eyes were!. I sat at polling station 10, which was a tent. The queue was long but manageable. Queues for polling stations 1 – 5, 8, 9, 16 and 17 were longer that led to the stations inside the hall. This center has 20 polling stations.  Nine of them inside the hall. I inquired from other agents why people were agitated and the answer was that voters who went inside took too long to come out and if they did then they would not be allowed to get in. My tentacles were raised and I told the presiding officer to hand me back my letter because I wanted to go in the hall. I would therefore not be allowed in without it. Before he handed me the letter all hell broke loose as a tear gas canister was lobbed 10 meters from where I was seated. I stood up to avoid being trampled. I went closer to the ballot boxes. I covered the Member of Parliament’s ballot box but I could not stand there longer. The tear gas was overwhelming. A stampede was imminent at the gate. A lady was writhing in pain near a tree, she had been stepped on by the many feet above her, she had a leso, I used it to cover her nose. “Pumua kama umefunika mapua yako na leso na ufunge macho” I shouted at her. By this time I was running out of air. I panicked and also ran for the gate. The last time I coughed that much was when I was very young through something called “yadh afita” which was administered by my grandmother.

Outside the hall people cursed why the police used such technics in crowd control. At this point I heard that during Jubilee nomination exercise tear gas canisters was also used. “Is it déjà vu?” I asked myself. At some point I cursed why I had to be brought here by the party. There was no room for quitting.

Witness account at Kariokor Social Hall

“Koro abiro nyiso dhako ang’o kaka alil kama, to nawuok e ot kaler?” (What will I tell my wife yet I left the house very clean) a voter lamented while holding his torn trousers with a bleeding knee. Opposite the deputy county commissioner’s office a voter cursed why tear gas had to be used. Her choice was Boniface Mwangi but did not see the reason of voting. A voter said in Kikuyu. I was conflicted on whether to speak to her to go back and vote or to go back inside the hall and do my work, perhaps ballot stuffing was taking place when we were all outside. The latter made more sense.

“Observer indeed”

I made my way to the Social Hall grounds but sat in polling station number 10 as I informed the Chief Party agent Nduko O’Matigere, Martin Njuguna and Njeri Mwangi of what had transpired. A few minutes later Khaddija came to check up on me and to deliver oath of secrecy letters for other party agents.

I managed to get in the hall at 9:50 am through polling station number 5 but managed to get space to observe the election process from polling station number two. Since the hall had nine polling stations it was overwhelming to be in the whole center so I contacted Martin who gave me an aspirant’s number. He fetched me from polling station number two. We walked in all the polling stations informing his agents who also worked for Ukweli Party. Luckily, Martin had informed me this. It was only polling station number 13 that did not have any of our agents. With Kennedy Oduor aka Chief in tow, resolved that during vote counting, tallying and transmission, I had to be in that polling center.

Moreover, queue on polling station number two went well until a lady with an observer badge was obstructing voter to get in through a door by closing it yet there were no voters on polling station 3. So I reported her to the presiding officer who told me that his hands were tied. Quite underwhelming a response a response he gave.  People heckled her and other agents scolded her for denying voters a chance to cast their votes. I saw her instructing the policemen to allow certain groups of people in and others not. She sat three chairs away from me. I later concluded that she is not an observer as her badge says but her DNA was as red as the party she represented. On the other hand, queue for polling station 17 was getting longer and not moving. Station 17 was next to polling station 3 which was next to ours so that is why I sat in two, to observe the others. Brian Irungu saw me and greeted me cheerfully; he did not expect to see me.

“Huyu agent analipa watu hapa, mbona anapeana ballot papers, mbona anachukua ID’s za watu fulani kisha anapea clerks?” Kwani wewe ni nani? (This agent is paying and issuing ballot papers to a certain group of people; she collects identification cards then issues them to the clerks. Who does she think she is”? ) lamented an ODM agent. It was around 5:57 pm. The station was not closed as they had opened late so voting was to go on till 7:30 pm. The ODM agent said that the Jubilee agent had hidden money in her under garment (kwa bra). Two of them were later ejected from the hall and voting went on smoothly till 7:30 pm.

I left polling station number two for 13 because they were about to start counting. Counting started after we all (party agents) agreed through consensus on the modus operandi. The presidential vote counting begun at 8:30 pm. The vote counting went on very well, very transparent. At around 10:20 pm Uhuru Kenyatta had 291 votes, Raila Odinga 203 and Mohamed Abdu Dida 1 vote. Total registered voters at the polling station 695 total valid votes 495. On to the counting of Member of National Assembly votes. The sorting, counting and tallying of the votes was long in my polling station but it was worth every wait. Sorting of the ballot was first done by all the clerks by opening the ballot papers and placing them face-down. This process started at four minutes to 10 pm. The counting went on till around midnight. Unfortunately there were voters who picked their ballots from polling station number 14 and cast the ballot in polling station 13. That is why our process of sorting, counting, tallying and transmission took longer than the other polling stations. Boniface Mwangi had 58 votes, Njagua Kanyi 260, Steve Mbogo 166 Roda 6 votes, Mwaniki Kwenya 1 vote, Wendero 1 vote and 4 spoilt votes. Total votes cast 492 with possibility of stray ballots from polling station 14. I left the polling station at 10 minutes to midnight.

Concluding, a review written by Senator Edward Kennedy for Coming of Age Mississippi written by Anne Moody. “A history of our time , seen from the bottom up, through the eyes of someone who decided for himself that things had to be changed…A timely reminder that we cannot now relax”.

To the Ukweli Party fraternity, friends, those who funded it and wished it well. I am still coughing from the tear gas fumes inhaled. We will live to fight another day.

Dear Mr. President,

By Kenneth Jura | Kenya

I am not sure whether you will read my article after all it will appear on a meat wrapper or on a platform that your government acknowledges, a blog, however it will not halt my quest to commend you for the good work you have done since you were elected in 2013. We are almost into the third year of your able leadership. When you recently travelled to The Hague you left us with your ever industrious and multi faceted deputy president who towed the line in making sure the country was efficiently run, he is quite fast as he rode in your official limousine. I commend you bwana deputy president or was it acting president then?

The former Prime Minister is moving around the country discrediting your amazing government yet you have done a lot for my beloved motherland, rebranding of National Youth Service is one example, which is directly under your office led by the ever charming Anne Waiguru your cabinet secretary for devolution and planning. It is indeed great that the NYS has been tasked to clean and open up Kibera slum, Lord knows there is nobody living in those slums who can do it.

Mr. President all those against your leadership do not want to see the change that your leadership brings to our country. The recently launched cashless matatu payment will definitely solve challenges of revenue collection as the country’s greatest tax evaders are of course bus conductors, it is well known. Who needs a better rail network? Who is their mother?

It is very unfortunate that some members of parliament and senators from CORD are vehemently against everything you are initiating. Mega projects such as the standard gauge railway, laptop project for standard one pupils, provision of free maternity services, security surveillance and the list is endless surely are we not gratified with what the president has done? They are naysayers who don’t know how to spend money.

Transform Kenya

The Jubilee manifesto was anchored on the promise of transforming Kenya which is not far from your implementation process, some of the promises include national cohesion which guaranteed affirmative action by ensuring under represented people and marginalized are properly represented, security through modernization of security forces especially through increased motorization which will enhance the ability to tackle crime in a more efficient and focused manner. To this end, you have led the way by purchasing a heavily armoured car that no bullet can penetrate. A safe president after all is the same thing as a safe nation, but naysayers don’t understand this.

Your Excellency, when you were the finance minister a friend of mine sought your audience to explain the “typing error” in your budget and he still waits even when you are the commander in chief. Perhaps he does not understand that you are teaching him the value of patience; I strongly believe he needs to move on.

Last week women of this country held a demonstration demanding respect from men after a lady was stripped at the Embassava stage, what I still do not understand is your ubiquitous silence on the matter yet it touched on social life and personal security which is enshrined in the Constitution. Women are givers of life and so the respect should be held at all times, same to any other person moreover, Her Excellency is fighting to have zero deaths during child birth how would this be achieved yet a woman has been raped, stripped, maimed and does not feel secure in her own country? Why give birth in a country that your child cannot be guaranteed of security? I am sorry your Excellency, I might have seemed a bit critical there. Of course you are not ignoring the women, you are simply waiting for the perfect PR moment to launch a drive for women’s dignity, spearheaded by the illustrious first lady. Ooops, did I say PR above, it was a typing error. Forgive me.

Kapedo, Lamu, Westgate, Garissa, Mandera, Pangani and other places have been hit hard with acts of terrorism and lawlessness and you are quite courageous to go to such places after these incidences with a bullet proof vest. The only language some of this people hear is talking tough just as you did in Kapedo and Westgate from State House, trust me on this. Mr. President it is deeply disconcerting that individuals such as Boniface Mwangi and Betty Waitherero and their ilk continue to be thorns in your lean blameless government, in fact they speak your tongue and the least they could do is support and defend your government instead of running on the streets. Do you think they need some “chicken” to have them speak your tongue? In my mother tongue when your father is mad you don’t run away from him but cover him up, they have done the opposite. They have a sufferer-complex that makes them want to complain and whine all the time. I suggest you do not listen to them ever, after all, who are their mothers? Yours is Mama Ngina, the first first lady. You are the son of Jomo Kenyatta the founding father of our country. Do not be cowed by individuals who do not know how a government runs and forgive your Excellency as they do not know what they are doing more so they should know people.