FUNDING OF IEBC CRUCIAL FOR 2022 GENERAL ELECTIONS


IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati

By: Odhiambo Jerameel Kevins Owuor

Worth Noting:

  • One did ask why the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission need such huge amount to facilitate elections. Election is not an event but a process thus Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission should prepare for the same. This requires them to have financial resources and man power not forgetting harnessing technology. The man power as well need to be remunerated this will aid in abetting corruption among the electoral body officials. The electoral body also needs to acquire ballot papers.
  • In the past, this has been a major cause of confrontation especially between the ruling regime and the opposition. This is because like in 2017 the opposition could not trust the tendering process done by the IEBC to a firm in Dubai. This led to numerous court cases that were initiated by then opposition parties led by Orange Democratic Movement whose leader is set to vie for the presidency in 2022 although he hasn’t publicly declared of the same.

Unless you are a visitor in Jerusalem this is not new to you, Kenya is heading to general elections in August 2022. Interestingly already top presidential candidates have started campaigning without being given a nod by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. That just shows how politicians are psyched up for the 2022 general elections. They are on a mission to woe voters to vote for them but there seems to be a miss somewhere which if not sorted will render next year’s elections chaotic. The National Assembly did allocate the electoral agency 26 billion yet the electoral body was in need of 40.9 billion to facilitate next year’s general elections.

It is imperative to note that Kenya is a human rights state thus political rights is enshrined in the Constitution which is the supreme law of the land. You have my permission to call it the grund norm. Article 38 unapologetically enumerates that every citizen has the right to free, fair and regular elections based on universal suffrage and the free expression of the will of the electors. That is what the Constitution stipulates and it has the force of law. The citizens ideally have a legitimate expectation that the electoral body will facilitate the electoral process without fail for them to effectuate their constitutional rights at all costs.

Thus, the underfunding of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission will present hurdles to make Article 28 a reality to some citizens in Kenya. Will such kind of elections be termed as credible? What constitutes a credible election? The most fundamental principle defining credible elections is that they must reflect the free expression of the will of the people. To achieve this, elections should be transparent, inclusive, and accountable, and there must be equitable opportunities to compete in the elections. It is envisaged that elections should be free, fair and credible. But when the electoral body isn’t adequately funded it presents a challenge.

One did ask why the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission need such huge amount to facilitate elections. Election is not an event but a process thus Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission should prepare for the same. This requires them to have financial resources and man power not forgetting harnessing technology. The man power as well need to be remunerated this will aid in abetting corruption among the electoral body officials. The electoral body also needs to acquire ballot papers.

In the past, this has been a major cause of confrontation especially between the ruling regime and the opposition. This is because like in 2017 the opposition could not trust the tendering process done by the IEBC to a firm in Dubai. This led to numerous court cases that were initiated by then opposition parties led by Orange Democratic Movement whose leader is set to vie for the presidency in 2022 although he hasn’t publicly declared of the same.

One of the lessons that can be learnt from 2017 is to make sure that the tendering process adheres to the relevant provisions on procurement and acquire the ballot papers early enough. That is meant for the IEBC. Moreover the money as well is needed to acquire transport of the voting materials to the various polling stations around the country. Due to harsh weather conditions it may force the commission to hire helicopters to facilitate transporting voting materials to other places. This was evident in the 2017 general elections.

Training of the electoral officials as pertains to what they should do during the election is an area where as well funds are channelled to. As well the elections officials should be exposed to the various legislations and laws that regard their work on voting day. Through training the election officials acquire knowledge on election matters. Having acquired the knowledge they will be able to help voters and guide them while they vote.

Voter registration is meant to be a continuous process but ideally due to lack of funding this has not been possible to be implemented. Earlier in the month of October the Chairperson of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Mr Wafula Chebukati did commission a one month voter registration program. Various politicians questioned why the period was only one month. Mr Chebukati Wafula perhaps gave them a perfect answer. He said that national assembly only commissioned for 1.2 billion to be given to the commission, yet the commission requested for four billion to make sure that the process is continuous. This highlights the negative impacts of not properly funding Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. Mr Wafula Chebukati has numerous stated that; the smooth running of the 2022 General Election depends on whether the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is aptly funded. It seems parliamentarians especially the members of National Assembly aren’t taking his words seriously.

Insufficient funding could scuttle critical preparatory activities ahead of the 2022 General Elections. It is evident that IEBC is facing financial constraints in undertaking key operations to facilitate a tamper proof poll. This has politics in it. In the past the electoral body has been accused of not preparing for elections, this time round it seems that members of National Assembly are in a mission to ensure that IEBC doesn’t execute its role as required by the supreme law of the land.

In sum, elections and other political processes are pivotal to the quality of a country’s governance and can either greatly advance or set back a country’s long-term democratic development. The National Assembly Budget and Appropriation Committee should by all cost appropriate the remaining sum to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission without fail. The parliamentarians should realise that the power they have is donated and they should act in the best interest of the citizens. The electoral body (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) should remember that once the money has been accredited to them, the least expected of them is for the body to deliver a free, fair and credible elections devoid of any irregularities not forgetting the commission accounting for every dime.

 Odhiambo Jerameel Kevins Owuor is a law student at University of Nairobi, Parklands Campus

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