Voters were up in arms over the presence of a private vehicle parked at Chemchem polling station, prompting some of them to search it in case it carried unauthorised ballot boxes only to find Sh6.2 million kept in it.
A Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) cadre whose name could not be immediately established, however, melted away with the cash, as other voters believed the money was meant for bribing political party agents in an attempt to solicit them to entertain rigging.
But assistant returning officer with Imbaseny Ward in Arumeru East Jefferson Mwangura said National Electoral Commission (NEC) in the constituency had hired the privately owned Toyota Land Cruiser for its activities.
He explained that the Sh6,160,000 found in the vehicle belonging to a private firm known as Enong’oto was meant for paying assistant returning officers, clerks and other NEC officials in Arumeru East constituency.
“It’s surprising to see the Chadema cadre disappear with the cash, he was supposed to wait for police officers to arrive in case he thinks it is illegal,” he lamented.
Outgoing lawmaker for the constituency Joshua Nassari also condemned the incident, saying it was against the law and that NEC officials were supposed to be paid before or after voting.
“I commend whoever has snatched and disappeared with the cash, what was it doing at the polling station at that point in time,” he queried, stressing that he would also think it was intended for bribing either the NEC officials or voters.
Arumeru East returning officer Damari Mchome, who doubles as Arumeru District Council acting director, admitted that she was aware of the presence of the disputed vehicle and the money at the polling station.
“The money did not belong to political party agents, but rather to 28 assistant returning officers,” said Mchome, adding that the geography of the constituency compelled the electoral body to pay the officials at their workplaces.
She said the vehicle was one of 25 others NEC in the constituency had hired to facilitate its activities, admitting that ignorance on the procedure of hiring the vehicle among voters was a recipe for trouble.