Kenyans in Tanzania head back home as tight election race beckons

Monday August 08 2022
Namanga border

Namanga One Stop Border is the border of Kenya and Tanzania and is found in the northern part of Tanzania. PHOTO | FILE

By Zephania Ubwani

Arusha. Kenyans working or living in Tanzania’s northern regions have been trooping home ahead of tomorrow’s election, which are expected to be a closely fought affair.

Scores of Kenyan nationals have been heading towards the Namanga border post in the past one week to cast their votes.

“Certainly, I won’t miss this chance. I’m leaving on Friday,” a senior East African Community (EAC) official said last week.

He affirmed when speaking on condition of anonymity that his single vote would matter for his preferred presidential candidate.

“Why should I waste this chance? Don’t you think the winner can one day appoint me to a senior position?” he joked.

Another Kenyan national, Mr Duncan Karanja, said he would have cast his vote in Arusha if it were possible to do so.

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Mr Karanja, who works with a dry cleaning firm here, could not be persuaded into revealing who he would vote for in the presidential election.

However, he minced no words that the Azimio la Umoja camp had been boosted by the entry of Ms Martha Karua as Mr Raila Odinga’s running mate.

Kenyans will vote to elect one of the four presidential candidates cleared by the country’s electoral body.

Mr Odinga will face Deputy President William Ruto who is vying for the position on the Kenya Kwanza coalition ticket.

Mr Ruto task will be Herculian as he has fallen out with his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is backing his erstwhile bitter rival Odinga.

A winner of the presidency needs to garner 50 percent plus one of the votes cast from the 20 million-plus registered voters.

In addition, the winner will need 25 percent of votes cast in 24 of the 47 counties.

Two other presidential aspirants are Mr David Mwaure, who is vying on the Agano Party ticket, and Mr George Wajackoya of the Roots Party.

The latter – a dreadlocked scholar – has gained prominence for his controversial promises.

Insecurity has been a major concern in the EAC region every time Kenya holds an election bearing in mind the 200/08 deadly chaos.

However, Mr Donald Deya, the CEO of the Pan African Lawyers’ Union (Palu) based in Arusha, has dismissed any fears of violence.

“There might some isolated incidents pitting the farming and pastoral communities, but I don’t see widespread violence this time around,” he told The Citizen.

Mr Diri Sola, an Arumeru resident, said he found it difficult to predict the winner of the presidential race between Mr Odinga and Mr Ruto.

However, he hinted that the stakes could be in favour of the Azimio la Umoja candidate as he has the support of the incumbent.

“This old man Raila has for many years been in the presidential race and democracy. He may be lucky this time,” he told The Citizen by phone.

Mr Kidawa played down the possibility of violence, saying there had been less hate speeches by politicians in the race compared to the other years.

EAC secretary general Peter Mathuki said the regional organisation believes tomorrow’s elections will be peaceful.

The regional body has deployed a 52-member observer mission to assess the credibility of the elections.