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We won't take responsibility if 'polluted' elections fail, IEBC tells NASA

By Nzau Musau | Published Sun, March 19th 2017 at 00:00, Updated March 18th 2017 at 22:11 GMT +3
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati

The electoral commission has told the National Super Alliance (NASA) that the agency will not take responsibility if the August 8 elections do not go on as planned.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said the election was already “contaminated and polluted” on account of delays in procuring technology to manage the polls.

The IEBC accused NASA of  placing hurdles in the way of the commission even as it responded to a letter sent to it by the super alliance that said the Opposition was concerned that the electoral agency was lagging behind in preparing for the elections.

However, in its four-page reply handed to NASA on Wednesday, the IEBC turned the tables on NASA.

“Should any of those processes that the Commission puts in place fail as a result of actions by other actors, those actors should solely take responsibility for such eventualities,” the IEBC said in a letter signed by commission Chairman Wafula Chebukati.

Mr Chebukati said all stakeholders in the electoral process  — including the Judiciary and the Executive — must take responsibility for the decisions they make that may have an impact on the electoral process. He said IEBC’s compliance and capacity to deliver a credible poll is hinged on concerted efforts by all parties.

In the NASA letter to the IEBC written by Senator James Orengo, the Opposition complained that recommendations made by the Independent Review Committee on the 2008 Election, popularly known as Kriegler Commission, to ensure that the polls are credible  have been ignored.

“It would appear nothing has changed since the Kreigler Report,” wrote Orengo in the letter copied to principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula.

“With a contaminated and polluted register which has not been subjected to statutory audit, the 2017 elections stand impugned and the legality thereof compromised even before they are held,” Orengo wrote.

No moral authority

Orengo said a situation where technology has not been procured and integrated five months before the election is not tenable.

However, in his reply, Chebukati told NASA that it has no moral authority to question the delay in the audit of the register when its membership — CORD — had filed a case in court triggering the delay. Chebukati also said it is regrettable that NASA can conclude that the integrity of the register is in doubt long before the June legal timeline for verification of the register.

The IEBC chief said the delays in auditing the register notwithstanding, his commission “believes very strongly” that the measures it has put in place will ensure there is a reliable register.

“We have noted that you have failed to appreciate the import of the amendments introduced to the law by the 2017 amendments. The latter reduced the time for procurement from eight months to 120 days to the election date. In effect, the commission has up to April 10, 2017 to procure,” he said.

Chebukati said  that arising from the cases filed against the tender process, the commission is exploring “other options” of ensuring there is an integrated technology for the elections and will be discussing the options with stakeholders soon.

NASA had demanded that the IEBC establishes a new data centre and a secondary data centre, and procures new servers.   NASA also demanded proof of the software licenses in use at the commission and their validity.

They demanded disclosure of servers that are operational at the commission and contractors supporting them, applications and database each server is utilising, any external interfaces and their identity and identity of the people overseeing data testing and debugging.

“We have also identified the need to audit each of the servers by serial numbers and confirm if they have duplicate instances of Oracle database,” Orengo wrote.

Orengo posted a list of 23 IEBC equipment, including servers, whose software purportedly belong to Morpho and have expired.

He provided their models, type and serial numbers. In its responses, IEBC appears to have been most irked by these revelations.

Chebukati said the commission is “deeply concerned” by the information provided about the servers and that it considered it a security breach for external actors like NASA to have “unauthorised access” to them.