Adding Reuben Kigame on presidential ballot paper to cost Sh971m, IEBC says

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairperson Wafula Chebukati. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) says it would cost the taxpayer an additional Sh971 million to include the name of Reuben Kigame on the presidential ballot paper.

This is in response to a July 18 High Court decision that directed the electoral agency to consider Kigame’s application as a presidential candidate in the August 9, 2022 General Election.

Kigame, who was seeking clearance as an independent candidate, was locked out of the race over alleged insufficient signatures to support his bid.

The IEBC says the presidential hopeful did not raise the requisite 48,000 signatures from at least 24 counties in Kenya as required by the law.

“Mr Kigame had only presented a list of 1,013 supporters as of May 25, 2022, which was the set deadline for submission of the list of nominating supporters,” the IEBC said in their notice of appeal.

In their protest filed at the Court of Appeal, IEBC said Kigame did not meet the constitutional signatures threshold, and that time constraints would also make it almost impossible for the electoral board to include the aspirant’s name on the ballot paper.

The IEBC further said preparation, printing and transportation of the presidential ballot papers require at least 30 days, yet Kenya, as of July 20, 2022, was 19 days to the general election.

“The reprinting, repackaging and eventual rebooking and rescheduling of flights to deliver the pallets to the central warehouse, which the printer confirms will not be possible in time for the general election slated for August 9, 2022.”

The electoral agency’s chairperson Wafula Chebukati further said that it would cost Kenya at least Sh971 million to print new ballot papers that contain Kigame’s name.

The electoral board said the commission does not have the extra budget.

“The cost of printing new ballot papers and rescheduling freight is not less than eight million euros (approximately Sh971 million). This amount is not in the commission’s election budget,” said Chebukati.

“The said-processes, subject to availability of the budget, require a minimum of 30 days, yet we are at 19 days to the general election.”

The IEBCs’ appeal at the higher court will be heard on Thursday, July 21, with Chebukati saying if the lower court’s decision is upheld, the August 9 presidential polls would be “jeopardised”.

“The range of steps and processes required to give effect to the judgement may severely jeopardise the holding of presidential elections on August 9, 2022.”

Chebukati further said IEBC would be forced to recall and reprogramme all the 55,650 Kiems kits to be used in the 47 counties, including the diaspora.

On Monday, July 18, High Court judge Antony Mrima ordered the IEBC to consider Kigame’s presidential application, saying the electoral agency breached his rights by striking him out of the presidential race without subjecting him to a fair vetting process.