The shocking low voter numbers facing President Uhuru is forcing Jubilee strategists to look for new ‘strongholds’ for the famed ‘tyranny of numbers’.
Reforms in IEBC seem to have forced Jubilee to rethink its ‘dead voters’ strategy, which is premised on a compliant IEBC sexing the voter register to include ghost voters.
In the 2013 polls, the number was two million voters, who turned up only to vote for the President.
As voter listing ends today, having been extended for two days following a petition by activist Okoiti Omtata, President Uhuru has turned to some of the unlikeliest of places to seek votes: prisons and specific cities in Africa. The IEBC recently announced that it will enroll prisoners to participate in the coming elections.
President Uhuru’s prison blitz started yesterday with the President touring Kamiti Maximum Prison where he announced a raft of goodies to prisoners. In the coming weeks, the President is expected to visit a number of prisons in the country to scout of new voters.
The more insidious strategy by Jubilee is to use prisons as the new “strongholds” just when it is becoming increasingly difficult for ‘free people’ to vote for the Jubilee regime, owing to the cost of living under his regime. Uhuru is also facing rejection in areas which would ordinarily top his vote basket, particularly Kisii and Maa regions.
Kamiti is one of Kenya’s most notorious prisons holding the most condemned, many who are serving long life sentences and death sentences. For the president to have chosen it as his first stop in prison vote hunting shows the desperation he faces in shoring up Jubilee numbers.
For the last four years, President Uhuru has pardoned hundreds of prisoners serving petty offences and those who have stayed for decades in prisons. Still, the high numbers of prisoners in Kenya make prisons the new ‘swing vote’ blocs.
A document on prison numbers seen by Kenya Today also shows the President’s GEMA sandbox are the majority, many serving petty offences on remand or short jail terms.
The idea that prisoners have a right to political determination is a global issue, with many jurisdictions grappling with the whether to allow it or not. In some countries, convicted felons can’t vote while still serving term. And even after they are released, many lose the right to vote, forever.
As a matter of personal conjecture, it is good for prison politics and policy to give prisoners the vote. This way, their sorry situation in congested dungeons become national political issues with consequence. Only when prisoners count as political beings will their welfare improve, simple.
It is unclear how other presidential candidates will access this voting bloc to sell their policies.
Apart from Prisons, President Uhuru has also focused on a number of diaspora cities in Africa which is likely to be a hot issue in the coming weeks.
The revelations that IEBC plans to register Kenyans in Kampala, Dar es Salaam, Kigali, Bunjumbura and Pretoria has rankled the opposition, questioning the criterion used to select the cities.
Some of these cities, according to critics, is said to have high concentration of people from one ethnic group, many who have in the last ten years received preferential treatment in terms of government postings and scholarship opportunities.