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Videos expose Kenya cash-for-votes scandal

Main political parties accused of bribing voters before Monday's general election after rights body releases evidence.
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2013 19:21
Two candidates standing for governor seats in Kenya's upcoming elections have been caught on camera appearing to give cash bribes to groups of youths in exchange for votes.

Ferdinand Waititu, standing for the Nairobi governor seat for the TNA (the party of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta), was caught on camera seeming to bribe a group of young people in Donholm, a less affluent suburb of Nairobi, on February 6.

The video footage appears to show Waititu giving a speech promising jobs, food security, funding for women and youth groups, and railing against cheap alcohol.

Raila OdingaUhuru KenyattaMartha KaruaPeter Kenneth

Find out more about Kenya's presidential candidates
He then appears to leave a bundle of cash with one of the young people in the group, giving instructions that it be shared among the rest.

In Kisii county, in southwestern Kenya, James Ongware - an aspiring governor standing with the CORD coalition of Prime Minister Raila Odinga - is shown instructing a crowd of youths and middle-aged men to queue up in order to receive cash at a campaign event near a primary school.

The footage has been released by the Kenyan Human Rights Commission (KHRC), which is independent of the government.

In its report, KHRC said "a significant number of positive steps have been and continue to be undertaken towards securing a free, fair and peaceful election" - but bribery, violence and intimidation, incitement and "the use of unsavoury language" have been observed across the country.

Also noted has been the misuse of state resources during political campaigns and the destruction of campaign materials by political rivals.

Rights-body's warning

The head of KHRC says politicans have used mobile-phone money transfers to bribe voters.

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Friday, Atsango Chesoni said: "We pointed out some instances they have used mobile-phone money transfers, so we would like to observe that if they don't heed the warnings of IEBC [the International Electoral and Boundaries Commission], and even if they successfully get into office through underhanded means, the law must still be in a position to catch up with them."
 
There is also evidence of candidates buying voter identification cards so they cannot cast their ballots on polling day.
Follow our in-depth spotlight coverage of the vote
Kenyan political observers say this is nothing new.

“If you get young boys and girls in the village sitting for days on end with no work, and if a politician passes by and gives them money, that is able to influence the outcome," Dismas Mokua, an analyst, told Al Jazeera.

The allegations surrounding misuse of state resources mostly refer to vehicles belonging to various government ministries being used to ferry people or chairs to campaign rallies.

As for the charges of "unsavoury language", several candidates at various levels have been heard insulting leaders of rival parties, though these have been mainly ad hominem attacks which were personally demeaning, but unlikely to spark hatred or violence.

More serious, however, are the words of one Aggrey Makau, standing for Bomani ward in Taita Taveta County.
 
He is reported to have said that political leaders had already planned to burn people's houses because of their tribe: "Do the people of Taita want a saviour as a leader, or leaders who burn market places? You want saviours or land-grabbers?"

The TNA and ODM parties have yet to respond to the videos.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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