President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party has expressed fears over NASA’s proposed parallel tallying infrastructure in neighbouring Tanzania.
Multiple sources at the heart of Jubilee’s electoral planning told the Saturday Standard that the fear of a parallel declaration of results and mischief by a rival candidate in a foreign country was real.
“We are aware that by stationing its back-up servers in Tanzania, they can proclaim Raila the winner using their own tally and declare him President in a neighbouring country as it happened in Gambia recently,” said members of the Jubilee think tank.
On Thursday, Thirdway Alliance presidential candidate Dr Ekuru Aukot scratched the surface of underlying fears that NASA is up to no good with its Tanzania-based tallying centre server.
Jubilee honchos led by party Vice Chairman David Murathe, a close ally of President Kenyatta, have confirmed the fears.
The precedent set in Gambian polls earlier this year have stoked the fears in the Jubilee camp. In the Gambian election, opposition leader Adama Barrow was sworn in at the Gambian Embassy in the neighbouring Senegal as the incumbent Yahya Jahmeh disputed the polls.
“We have no doubt in our mind that we will sweep them over in round one. But that does not and should not mean we are leaving anything to chance. We are aware of what they are up to and are telling Kenyans to beware of the enemy from within,” said Mr Murathe.
The lack of a substantive Kenya’s High Commissioner to Tanzania after the resignation of Chirau Ali Makwere earlier this year has left the embassy politically exposed, Jubilee strategists also say.
The administration views Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli as a close ally of Raila Odinga, its main rival in the election.
Before he was elected president, Magufuli attended the 2012 ODM convention at Kasarani which endorsed Raila’s bid for the 2013 election.
Magufuli also attended the burial of Raila’s first-born son Fidel Odinga in Bondo two years ago.
He told mourners that he was representing the former President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete at the funeral.
Following Magufuli’s election as the president last year, Raila became the first international guest to visit his home.
“Kenya is not Gambia or DR Congo where you can experiment with the things you imagine in your mind. Kenya is certainly not a Banana Republic. In a way, you can understand Raila’s ‘one-bullet’
frustration. He is cornered and with only one shot,” Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju laughed off the Tanzanian link.
He said Jubilee will be collating its own vote but will not chest-thump about it.
Friday, NASA co-principal and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula said that the allegations were symptomatic of a government in panic because it knows it will be in the Opposition in a matter of weeks.
“Jubilee is aware that they will lose this election and now are coming up with not wild but also laughable lies that expose their fear of election defeat,” Wetang’ula said.
He wondered if the ruling administration was aware of the consequences of the diplomatic relationship the allegations would do not only to Tanzania but to the wider East African Community.
He however affirmed that their tallying centres were up and ready for the elections.
“We will tally all the votes as they come. It does not matter where the polling station is; even if they are on top of trees or in the clouds, our satellite phones will pick the results.”
As Jubilee leaders spoke, Tanzania’s President Magufuli through his State House communications director George Msigwa denied knowledge of the Kenya’s Opposition setting up a tallying infrastructure in the country.
“Ask those who are claiming that there is a tallying centre in Tanzania, they can tell you where it is. The State House in Tanzania does not have any knowledge on the same,” Mr Msigwa said.
NASA insiders have previously confirmed to the Saturday Standard that they are putting up tallying centre back-up servers in Kenya, Tanzania and Germany.
In addition, thousands of satellite phones and over two hundred thousand agents are being deployed by the Opposition coalition in a Sh1.5 billion vote protection budget.
According to leaked information from the secretariat, the five agents to man each of the 40,800 polling station and the tallying centres in Nairobi, Tanzania and Germany are part of the wider plan to deny the incumbent a chance of manipulating figures.
Raila and his co-principals and running mate Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi, Wetang’ula and Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto have told their supporters that they guard the votes given to them.
Last week, NASA completed installation of a state-of-the-art tallying centre in Nairobi’s Runda suburb. Links for the centres are being tested by a team of Germans and Ghanaians based at the NASA office in Westlands.
Raila has maintained that his 2013 victory was stolen through manipulation of the IEBC systems and technology.
Initially, the Government resisted plans to set up parallel tallying centres with late Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery at the time insisting that this was against the law.
However the Government ate humble pie when IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati announced that presidential candidates were free to set up tallying centres as long as they did not publicly announce the results.
According to a source at the NASA centre at Westlands, party agents will us satellite phones to capture video and still pictures of Forms 34 and 36 and relay them from the polling station to constituency and national centres.
In an interview with the Saturday Standard, Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama, one of the key figures in NASA’s effort to guard the vote said they are determined to ensure that no vote is stolen.
“You can be sure that in this election, we are not only campaigning to get more votes but also guard it, we know what they did in 2013 elections and we will not allow it again,” said Mr Muthama.
He claimed that in the last election, they trusted the electoral agency to do the right things but the election was compromised.
“IEBC betrayed our trust then, we will therefore get votes from every single polling station and will have our final results hours after voting,” he said.
Already, about a hundred county coordinators for all the devolved units have been trained and given contract letters while the training of three coordinators per constituency starts on next week.
The constituency coordinators will then complete the recruitment of seven polling station agents by the end of next week, an initiative that is being run by a Ghanaian who reportedly managed the same system for Ghana’s President Nana Ado. Undisclosed number of satellite phones have already been acquired and will be used in all the polling stations, more so in areas with poor mobile telephony network.
The satellite phones will ensure that even when the mobile networks are not reliable, the results will be sent to the tallying centres.
A month ago, the High Court in Nairobi ruled that the results announced at the polling stations will be final and NASA is determined to ensure that the figures are not compromised.