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December 11, 2018

Repeat polls to cost Sh12bn as IEBC retreats

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati and vice chai Consolata Nkatha during a simulation of  election results transmission by the IEBC at the Bomas of Kenya Presidential tallying centre August 2,2017./HEZRON NJOROGE
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati and vice chai Consolata Nkatha during a simulation of election results transmission by the IEBC at the Bomas of Kenya Presidential tallying centre August 2,2017./HEZRON NJOROGE

Details emerged yesterday of how much the repeat presidential election will cost as chairman Wafula Chebukati and his commissioners headed to Naivasha for a retreat aimed at ironing out their differences.

The repeat presidential election will cost Sh12 billion and the commission has already written to the National Treasury requesting that the money be released quickly so they can prepare well for the election due in 35 days.

The Kenyan election is among the most expensive globally.

In the last election, the IEBC spent Sh42 billion, but it was still indicted by the Supreme Court for having “failed, neglected or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the Constitution”.

According to the new budget obtained exclusively by the Star, enhancement of electoral technology, polling officials’ wages, election materials including ballot papers and transport, will consume the bulk of the cash.

The electoral agency has set aside Sh1.49 billion for what it terms as enhancement of technology, Sh2.39 billion for polling officials’ wages, and Sh1.9 billion for transport at the county levels.

Sh1.3 billion would be spent on acquisition of election materials, including ballot papers, Sh2.9 billion on training of polling officials and hire of equipment during training, while Sh214 million have been earmarked as “tallying centre expenses”.

“A draft budget has been presented to the National Treasury for consideration. We expect expeditious allocation of funds to allow for implementation of the key tasks ahead, especially those related to ICT and training,” said Chebukati.

Illegalities and irregularities that dogged the results transmission system were at the heart of the Supreme Court ruling that nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory.

To redeem its battered image, the IEBC intends to allocate Sh1.49 billion for technology, especially enhancement of the results transmission system.

Sh136 million will be spent on ICT security, Sh147 million on back end and technical support, while Sh516 million would be spent on network and communication.

Opposition chief Raila Odinga claims the IEBC servers were hacked and results doctored in Uhuru’s favour.

On Friday NASA Presidential Campaign Chairman Musalia Mudavadi wrote to the French government to institute prosecutions against Safran Identity and Morpho –– the two firms that supplied technology to the IEBC.

“The purpose of this letter is to urge that the French government initiate administrative and where possible criminal investigations against the said companies and its officials, specifically Mr Laurent Lampert, Head of Project Kenya and Mr Axel Gaucher, Head of Analytics, who were complicit in the above stated illegal and unethical acts,” Musalia said.

In an explosive memo to Commission CEO Ezra Chiloba, Chebukati also alluded to a possible interference with the IEBC servers.

Chebukati protested that his account was created and used to undertake 9,934 transactions in the IEBC server without his knowledge and consent.

 According to the IEBC budget, Sh2.39 billion will be spent to pay 217,674 temporary staff that will be engaged on October 17.

The IEBC plans to hire 40,883 presiding officers, 40,883 deputy presiding officers, 135,038 clerks, 580 ICT support and 290 constituency logistics assistants.

“All staff engaged during the General Election will be retained, except those at the County level. Polling clerks will be reduced to three per polling station. Therefore a polling station will have a PO [presiding officer], DPO [deputy presiding officer] and 3 clerks. A queuing clerk will be hired for centres with more than two polling stations,” Chiloba said in his budget to Treasury.

The IEBC estimates that acquisition of new ballot papers and the register would cost Sh541 million.

In a clear indication that the contents of the sealed ballot boxes used in the last election will not be tampered with, the IEBC will acquire new ballot boxes at a cost of Sh79 million.

The Chebukati-led team have also allocated Sh84.5 million for what it calls diaspora and factory visits.

This is apparently for the visitation to the country that will print the ballot papers.

It remains unclear whether the IEBC intends to return to the controversial Dubai- based printer Al Ghurair, that NASA has vehemently opposed.

The IEBC will hire vehicles for each polling station at a total cost of Sh1.92 billion, while distribution of election materials and equipment will also gobble up Sh875 million.

The distribution will be undertaken by the struggling Postal Corporation.

The IEBC also plans to set aside Sh273 million for legal services, including Sh52 million for a fresh presidential petition response, Sh172 million for what it terms “verification of response documents” and Sh35 million for oathing of election officials.

This now lifts the lid on the amount the IEBC lawyers, Paul Muite, PLO Lumumba, Issar Mansur and Paul Nyamodi pocketed in their failed bid to convince the Supreme Court that the August 8 polls were conducted in accordance with the law.

But even as IEBC seeks fresh funding, questions are being asked about financial prudence at the Commission, after it emerged that none of the satellite phones acquired at a staggering Sh848 million worked on Election Day.

Chebukati also appeared to question whether printing and scanning machines acquired from the MFI Company were supplied fit for purpose.

“The phones were to be distributed to each constituency and county tallying centre. Additionally, areas with no network were specifically supplied with these devices. However, none ever worked,” Chebukati said in the memo that triggered a storm at IEBC.

“Respond and explain what occasioned the massive failure in the devices that would have been used in transmitting the results.”

The budget was prepared by a besieged Chiloba, whom NASA is pushing to have sacked.

At the Naivasha retreat that kicked off last evening, the Commission would be seeking to build consensus after a week of drama and sharp divisions.

Some Four Commissioners disowned the Chebukati memo to Chiloba, terming its contents as false.

In a stern memo on Tuesday to the CEO, Chebukati sought answers to 12 issues, including why the Commission used statutory forms without security features, contrary to contract specifications.


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