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Support polls agency to deliver credible elections

OPINION
By Editorial | November 25th 2021

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati. [Kipsang Joseph Standard]

Barely 10 months to the next general election, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is steeped in issues that threaten its operations.

Key among them are lack of funds, cancellation of tenders and lack of a substantive Chief Executive Officer. The office of the CEO has been vacant since Ezra Chiloba left under a cloud in 2018.

To ensure the smooth facilitation of the 2022 elections, IEBC requested Sh40.9 billion but the National Treasury allocated it Sh26.3 billion, leaving a deficit of Sh14.6 billion. A multi-agency team on elections seeks to have IEBC given an extra Sh7 billion, which is welcome.

The effects of under-funding became evident recently when the IEBC was constrained to honour a court order extending the voter registration period due to lack of funds. No doubt, that inability resulted in many eligible voters being locked out.

The decision by the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) to nullify a Sh3 billion tender for the supply of ballot papers after it first cancelled a Sh4.5 billion tender to a Greek company not only adds to the woes at IEBC, it lays grounds for litigation regarding the credibility of elections should a party challenge the outcome of the election. 

IEBC challenged PPARB's cancellation of the Sh4.5 billion tender in court and won, paving way for the contracted company to supply and maintain the Kenya Integrated Elections management System (Kiems) Kit.

This is not the time to engage IEBC in sideshows and distractions that ultimately could detract it from its main course. We cannot afford a situation where IEBC is again blamed for presiding over sham elections at great cost to human life and property. This is the time to put the IEBC house in order.

The government should support and ensure that IEBC conducts credible elections even as the electoral agency is duty-bound to ensure accountability and prudent use of the funds at its disposal.

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