Court Hardpresses Gladys Wanga to Explain Disparity in Votes
Homa Bay County governor, Gladys Wanga, was on Wednesday, December 7, asked to take the stand as a witness in a case seeking to nullify her August 2022 gubernatorial election victory.
Former Nairobi County governor Evans Kidero asked the court to quash her victory, arguing that the election was marred with irregularities.
Wanga, who defended her victory, dispelled rumours that her win was mechanically aided by Homa Bay IEBC returning officer Fredrick Apopa.
At the centre of Kidero’s case against Wanga was the mismatch in the number of votes after scrutiny of selected ballot boxes.
Former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero (centre) and his lawyer Julie Soweto during the hearing of his petition against the election of Gladys Wanga at the Homa Bay High Court on October 7, 2022.
“The difference in the number of votes after scrutiny does not amount to evidence of collusion between the Returning Officer and the Governor,” Wanga defended.
She further explained that her team, comprised of ODM Party foot-soldiers, was more organised in grassroots mobilisation.
Wanga further told the court that the election was free and fair, arguing that IEBC officials only played the role of managers in the electoral process.
On November 22, 2022, Homa Bay High Court Judge ordered a recount of votes in seven constituencies across Homa Bay County.
According to Justice Roselyne Aburili, Kidero proved a prima facie case to warrant the recount of votes and scrutiny of forms 37As,37Bs and 37C in the seven constituencies.
A prima facie case is a cause of action or defence sufficiently established by a party’s evidence to justify a verdict in his or her favour, provided the other party does not rebut such evidence.
Kidero cited electoral malpractices after it emerged that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) recorded disparities in the figures from the constituencies in the county.
“I find that the petitioners (Kidero and his deputy Elijah Odondi) have laid a prima facie and sufficient basis to warrant scrutiny and recount. I find that the petitioners have laid a sound basis to the effect that Forms 37 A, Forms 37B, and Form 37C should be scrutinized.
“Likewise, the scrutiny and verification of the KIEMs kits data used in the August 9, 2022, gubernatorial election in HomaBay County,” ordered Judge Aburili.
Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga (left) and President William Ruto.
IEBC returning officer Fredrick Apopa declared Wanga and her deputy Oyugi Magwanga of ODM the winners with 244,559 votes.
The returning officer also declared Kidero second with 154,182 votes, while UDA’s Mark Rabudi emerged third with 1,244 votes. However, while adducing evidence, Kidero alleged that the county returning officer used the wrong results to declare the winner.
However, results from the scrutiny exercise reportedly demonstrated glaring discrepancies in the total votes for both candidates, Kidero and Wanga.
On his part, IEBC County Manager Fredrick Apopa noted that it is normal for figures used to declare results and votes cast for each elective seat to vary.
Apopa, who appeared before the court Monday, December 5, was asked to explain the inconsistencies in the total votes cast, which showed that the total number of ballots cast in the governor position was more than those cast in the presidential race.
He reportedly claimed that the difference resulted from mistakes made by voters.
The IEBC, however, acknowledged the mismatch in results but dismissed the allegations noting that the irregularities and malpractices raised did not affect the results he used to declare the winner.