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State probing Makonde Voter Listing

Authorities in Kwale County are investigating claims that the Makonde community that was granted Kenyan citizenship two years ago is being enlisted to vote in Mozambique’s general election.

County Commissioner (CC) Mr. Karuku Ngumo said the government was not aware of the alleged voter registration targeting Kenya’s 43rd tribe but added they will investigate the allegations.

“I am not aware of the registration and can only give details after investigations. We will definitely look into the issue to ascertain the veracity of the claims,” said Mr. Ngumo in an interview in his office yesterday.

Speaking separately from Kwale town and Makongeni village at the weekend, the Makonde who ceased being stateless persons after the government granted them national identity cards, said they were strongly opposed to the registration as they risk losing the citizenship.

Led by the chairman of the Makonde community in Kenya Mr. Thomas Nguli, the group accused the Mozambican Embassy in Nairobi of being behind the alleged mobilization of the community to register as voters and want the Kenyan government to intervene in the matter on their behalf.

They said they were not willing to vote in the October elections in Mozambique since they have already settled in Kenya and that only a few disgruntled elements among them were falling for the ruse.

“I am warning my colleagues to be wary of being duped to register as voters as we risk being stripped off the citizenship which we fought hard to get hence ending our many years of statelessness,” Mr. Nguli said noting that their recognition as Kenyans was granted on condition they strictly adhere to citizenship requirements.

He however admitted that the issue had split the community into two factions but was quick to add that only a few who he dismissed as misguided are in support of the voter listing and that the majority were against it.

Mr. Nguli said efforts to register them started last week with promises that those willing to do so will eventually be issued with passports to facilitate their repatriation back to the Southern African country.

Ms. Maria Vaz who was at the forefront of fighting for the citizenship for the community had this to say about the move to participate in the Mozambican elections: “This has been the case for the Kenyan Makonde community every time the Mozambique elections come knocking.”

“I participated in Kenya’s first post-independence elections. I am Kenyan not Mozambican,” 80-year-old David Atikinika chipped in.

“I don’t want to lose my Kenyan citizenship. We are tired of this meddling in our affairs,” he added angrily.

The chairman claimed the Mozambican government only wants to use them to vote whenever there are elections in Mozambique accusing those supporting the move of having been paid and called on the Kenyan government to intervene.

They got citizenship after many years of seeking to be recognized as Kenyans. It took them a long trek from Kwale to Nairobi and many difficulties along the way as part of their protests which finally earned them the much sought after citizenship.

By Everlyne Mumo and James Muchai

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