EXPERT COMMENT

IEBC benchmarking trip waste of taxpayers money

In Summary

• Trips have become a means of making money for government officials.

•MCAs, Members of Parliament among other state officers are fond of travelling outside the country in the pretext of benchmarking.

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati at parliament
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati at parliament
Image: FILE

Benchmarking has become a big avenue of getting ways and means of making money for government officials.

You find that MCAs, Members of Parliament among other state officers are fond of traveling outside the country in the pretext of benchmarking, ending up wasting public funds.

I don't think it is necessary. In the case of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, it is not the first time the country is undertaking a boundary review.

The guiding factor for review is the population. We have not conducted a national census to provide data for the same. The commission should wait for the census and look at previous practices that informed past reviews. The records are there.

The formula for demarcating boundaries is very clear. We don’t know whether the population count would require that perhaps we look at the numbers of MPs with a view to reducing or increasing the constituencies.

I don’t quite understand why we should spend public resources when there is no medicine in hospitals; when there is hunger in Turkana, and whether Kenyans need to be taxed heavily to continue wasting money such as is the case of benchmarking trips.

We have done a lot of boundaries review before. The team led by former MP Andrew Ligale used a formula that has always worked. Actually, our team introduced the formula many years back and the same is still valid. The formula, which factors a 40 per cent variance in both areas of population of constituencies, had some electoral units which were protected and could be the one sparking calls for review whether the protection should continue or whether they should lose the privileges.

Further to this, we don’t know the outcome of the talks being conducted by the Building Bridges task force.

So, we have to look at the call for boundary review in toto. We have to look at the whole country and consider what the Bridges team will come up with before reaching a drastic policy position.

The IEBC should consider hiring experts to give it views on how to conduct the process. It works much better than having to travel to another place for such lessons. Most of the work can be done within the country. 

Tumwa is a former Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) commissioner and he spoke to the Star