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Chebukati to spend Sh30m on benchmarking tours

Leaders and election experts express outrage over trips unnecessary

In Summary

• IEBC chief and his two commissioners to visit US, Canada, Australia, Nigeria, South Africa and India

• Some of the staff included as the technical team from the Secretariat include the director of human resource and administration.

IEBC team led by Chairman Wafula Chebukati after a meeting in Nairobi with a delegation from the National Anti-Corruption Campaign Steering Committee on February 14, 2019.
IEBC team led by Chairman Wafula Chebukati after a meeting in Nairobi with a delegation from the National Anti-Corruption Campaign Steering Committee on February 14, 2019.
Image: COURTESY

The Wafula Chebukati-led Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission will embark on a Sh30 million tour of six countries to "benchmark on boundaries review."

The IEBC Commissioners commissioners - Chebukati, Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu - are planning to tour South Africa, a country that does not have constituencies, raising questions about the motive of the expensive visits.

The Star has established that the IEBC will visit six countries including the US beginning Monday, March 25.

Documents in our possession indicate that the three commissioners will be in all the six trips together with four staff from the secretariat.

The countries lined up for the benchmarking trips are US, Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and Nigeria.

Yesterday, leaders and electoral experts termed the tours “ill-advised, unnecessary and excessive” and could be a disguise to raid taxpayers' pocket for hefty allowances.

Most of the people who worked with Andrew Ligale in the last boundary review nine years ago still work for IEBC and their expertise could easily be tapped.

South Africa does not have constituencies and therefore does not undertake boundary delineation.

South Africa’s Parliament consists of 490 seats, with 400 forming the Lower House or National Assembly. The Upper House or the National Council of Provinces, represents has seats (10 members from each province).

Members to the NCOP are provincial delegates nominated by each provincial legislature.

The National Assembly is filled in accordance with the votes each party gets during the General Election. 

Yesterday, the national carrier Kenya Airways told the Star it would cost Sh250,580 return to fly a single person to Toronto, Canada , one of the cities the commission plans to tour.

Chairman of IEBC Wafula Chebukati with Commissioners Ayub Guliye and Boya Molu. April 20, 2018.
Chairman of IEBC Wafula Chebukati with Commissioners Ayub Guliye and Boya Molu. April 20, 2018.
Image: JACK OWUOR

This means the Canada trip, flying economy, would cost the IEBC Sh1.7 million in air fair alone.

IEBC commissioners usually fly first class.

This cost is exclusive of accommodation, meals and other logistics including transport that is costly, especially in Europe.

Some of the staff included as the technical team from the Secretariat include the director of human resource and administration.

The Election Observation Group said yesterday the IEBC’s costly trips will only deepen Kenyans' mistrust of the commission, coming at a time when the elections agency has been indicted for financial mismanagement.

“If capacity is needed, it can be obtained in a very modest way. We have a lot of research which has been conducted so far on boundary delimitation. When you have many officers travelling to a number of countries, that sounds very excessive, ” Elog national coordinator Mulle Musau told the Star.

Auditor General Edward Ouko says the IEBC cannot account for up to Sh9.2 billion for various contracts it awarded for the supply of goods and services used during the twin 2017 general elections.

IEBC acting chief executive officer Marjan Hussein Marjan declined to comment when contacted.

IEBC corporate affairs manager Tabitha Mutemi asked the Star send an email on the issue but did not respond 48 hours after the email was sent.

In one of the letters by Marjan to the National Boundary Commission of Nigeria, the acting CEO requests for a five day “learning benchmarking experience.”

“We have selected your organisation as a learning institution for our boundaries review process,” Marjan wrote.

Veteran administrator Joseph Kaguthi who was part of the Interim Independent Boundary Review Commission that delivered the current electoral boundaries wondered why IEBC was planning the tours.

These are the kinds of things that we told IEBC in our report. With lack of stakeholder engagement, they will keep losing trust and confidence.
Elog national coordinator Mulle Musau

“I just hope they are not doing it [the trips] for the usual allowance. There is enough experience in the country. They just need to do a literature review. We have a lot of that information. Very thorough work was done in 1962 which established the boundaries that we have now for the counties apart from a few which were divided later,” Kaguthi said.

He went on, “What questions are you going to ask those people from outside to answer you about your country and recommend about your country? You might need to ask them [IEBC], have they gone to the Kenya National Archives to look at the boundary review of 1962?”

IEBC’s own internal audit exposed a massive financial mess leading to the sacking of chief executive officer Ezra Chiloba.

The Public Accounts Committee in a damming report said they received evidence of financial impropriety on the commissioners and recommended they vacate office.

“The Commissioners, individually and collectively, failed to exercise oversight as envisioned under section 11A(a) of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act, 2011 thereby plunging the Institution into a crisis,” the report stated.

The report was however rejected, with National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi saying the committee overstepped its mandate.