, NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 1 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on Monday launched the voter education programme ahead of the March 4 General Election.
Chief Executive Officer James Oswago said the purpose for the voter education exercise is to make the Kenyan electorate more informed in the run-up to the elections.
“We want to eradicate ignorant voters, but who is an ignorant voter? You may have solace by imagining that an ignorant voter is an illiterate person; actually some of the ignorant voters are the most enlightened in out midst,” said Oswago.
“I am talking about the ministers and the others; they are the ones who are promoting divisions and violence in our midst. So if a person can corrupt a voting environment, it does not matter how many degrees that fellow has; he is actually illiterate in that context!” he added.
Oswago said according to their roadmap to the elections, IEBC intends to continue the voter education process until June – three months after the General Elections.
The IEBC launched the Voter Registration Curriculum, Handbook on Elective Positions and Voter Education Training Manual that will be used to educate the 18 million Kenyans expected to be registered during next month’s Biometric Voter Registration exercise.
IEBC Vice-Chairperson Lillian Mahiri-Zaja said they commission will open ward based voter education forums that will be coordinated by constituency election officials.
She added that the Commission had received the nod from Athletics Kenya to organise a Voters Marathon as a platform of engaging Kenyans.
“We will also employ the use of bulk SMS by mobile operators, we will also have multi-facetted media campaigns with a focus on national and community radio of course this also targets the illiterate population of our country,” Mahiri-Zaja stated.
“We shall also have direct mailing the internet that is targeted at reaching the Kenyans who are leaving outside our borders,” she said.
IEBC chairperson Isaack Hassan reiterated that March 4 would be the elections date and dismissed claims that the poll body was not ready for the exercise.
“Those who are alleging that the IEBC is not prepared for the elections look for another excuse, don’t use the IEBC as your excuse to delay the elections,” he declared.
The sentiments were echoed by Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo who argued that those spreading such false information as concerns the election date should be charged for propagating hate speech, since the idea is a recipe for tension.
“Those peddling rumors of an impossibility of March general election are hate speech peddlers who are out to cause disquiet and discomfort in the minds of Kenyans who want to go to the polls in peace,” said the minister.
The voter registration exercise which is set to kick off early next month will only last 30 days, with Hassan warning that no there will be extensions, given that the electoral commission is time barred.
The Chairman further appealed to stakeholders to come out and participate in the voter education program to complement the efforts of the selected trainers.
The Education Minister said he plans to introduce voter education into the education curriculum as part of far reaching education sector reforms.
“When you are asked to vote, when you are required to vote, it is not just the casting of the ballot, infact the casting of the ballot is an insignificant of voter education. There are the whys, the whens, there are the for whom and for how long and therefore it ought to be continuous,” the Education Minister emphasised.
Voters will be electing leaders to six key positions at the same time including the President, Senators, County Governors, MPs, Civic representatives and Women County Representatives.