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Democracy is expensive, but IEBC needs to stop asking for billions of shillings to waste

CLAY MUGANDA
By Clay Muganda | October 9th 2021
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati. In August, IEBC declared that it will need Sh40.9 billion to conduct the 2022 polls. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

In less than one year, Kenyans will make the same mistakes they made in previous five-year cycles of elections when they voted for people who only made their lives miserable.

Signs that polls are not far off have been given by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission with its mass voter registration that started less than seven days ago, and will run for 30 days.

It should not be lost on Kenyans that IEBC officialdom has already started wailing about funds, like it does every now and then, with the lame excuse that democracy is expensive being their mantra.

In the 2017 election, IEBC received Sh49.9 billion making it one of the most expensive elections globally. [Joseph Muchiri, Standard]

Even though the turnout at voter registration centres is still low, some of the living mistakes Kenyans will re-elect or pick for the first time, are zealously encouraging people to register.

That might seem like a civic duty by active citizens who respect people’s right to vote, but they are only concerned because they want more zombies who will elect them after they have given promises which they will never keep.

They want Kenyans to register and vote for them so that they can continue or start stealing, since in Kenya, politics is not just a criminal enterprise, but a refuge for criminals— thugs to be precise, who need the immunity of Parliament to commit crimes with impunity.

That is not news anyway—electing people without an iota of integrity has been the norm, and the first entity which makes that possible is the electoral agency because often, it never gets its act right.

There is no gainsaying that the voters are responsible, and that is true since they know that the people on the ballot are criminals, yet they still vote for them, but it is IEBC that offers the vagabonds to the voters. Thus, they have no choice but to pick between well-known and emerging thieves.

Infographics: The Standard Checkpoint.

Currently, in between complaining about funding, IEBC is registering new voters and enabling those who need to change polling stations, but during, or after the polls, the voter register always brings confusion. In many instances, the register is the foundation of conflicts and ensuing petitions on which IEBC losses hundreds of millions of shillings in legal fees.

It would not be surprising if it emerges that the electoral body deliberately introduces gremlins in its systems so certain individuals can get kickbacks from the agency’s lawyers who appear for it in the courts when politicians file petitions.

To write that IEBC’s vetting system is broken is a lie: It is non-existent, and the agency gives the lame excuse that it needs more teeth; that the existing legislation is weak and it can only halfheartedly bark, and not bite.

While at it, IEBC never gets tired of crying for more funds. There is virtually no taxpayer-funded entity in Kenya that asks for funds more frequently than IEBC.

Even when it wants to put in a request for funding, it asks for more money to do that, and it is increasingly becoming clear that it has deviated from what it is mandated by the Constitution to do, and made crying for funds its main duty.

For next year’s polls, IEBC wants Sh41 billion, which—as a writer pointed out in our sister publication The Standard on Tuesday—is “80 per cent more than is being put into national Covid-19 economic recovery; more than the sum total of Big Four agenda allocations for manufacturing and affordable housing, and slightly less than this year’s allocation for universal health coverage.”

There is no denying that democracy is expensive, but the people should benefit. Unfortunately, this expensive democracy does the opposite, directly and indirectly, for there are equally important needs that will not be met because IEBC’s funds frenzy has to be met first and politicians will not do much to prevent that because they want elections so they can get a chance to continue or start stealing.

No matter how much money IEBC gets, elections do not add value to the lives of Kenyans. We often end up with crooks whose aim is to plunder public coffers through embezzlement of funds and underhand deals.

Politicians aside, Kenya’s electoral bodies have never been known to be clean when it comes to finances.

There are always reports of its officials having conducted shady deals with suppliers, leading to court cases that drain more resources in the form of legal fees.

After every election, some officials are always alleged to have misappropriated several millions of shillings through flawed tendering processes that deliver obsolete equipment, and which in turn lead to questionable results which lead to petitions and IEBC has to spend, nay, lose, more money to defend itself.

Since these kind of problems are experienced so often, one would think that IEBC knows the loopholes and can seal them, but no, that is not in the interest of its officials, for, their job is to defraud the public, then ask for more funds, which they can then again embezzle, just like the politicians.  

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