How IEBC plans free and fair 2022 polls

Chairman said areas without 3G network to be provided with alternative technologies

In Summary

• In 2017 IEBC was unable to transmit results from at least 10,000 polling stations that were not covered by a 3G network.

• To avert late delays in procurement of critical elections materials due to tender wars witnessed in 2017, Chebukati said IEBC has started identifying suppliers.


IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati and governance and security advisor of British High Commission Nikolai Hutchinson during the launch of the annual voter education programme at Bomas of Kenya on June 14
FLAGGING: IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati and governance and security advisor of British High Commission Nikolai Hutchinson during the launch of the annual voter education programme at Bomas of Kenya on June 14

The electoral commission has put a raft of plans in place to ensure the August 2022 General Election is free and fair.

They include plans to address the nonavailability of 3G networks in some remote parts of the country and early procurement of ballot papers.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati at the weekend revealed the agency in partnership with the Communication Authority of Kenya has started mapping out the country to assess areas that do not have networks.

The election will be on August 9, 2022.

Chebukati stated that where there is no 3G network, alternative technologies will be availed for transmission of election results.

He said two institutions have established a joint technical committee to address communications network coverage.

“To address the issue, the Commission and the Communications Authority of Kenya held deliberations in February 2021 and agreed on key deliverables," he told stakeholders in Mombasa on Saturday.

They include CAK undertaking Quality of Service parameters of polling stations to identify those that do not have adequate 3G network coverage before the election," he said.

In 2017 election, some presiding officers were forced to transmit results outside their polling stations because a number of polling station were not covered by 3G networks necessary for transmission of the image of the results form.

The IEBC was unable to transmit results from at least 10,000 polling stations that were not covered by a 3G network.

In 2017, the country had 40,883 polling stations with a maximum of 700 voters per polling station

This was part of the reason the Supreme Court nullified the presidential result as the law requires the commission to use technology to transmit the results.

A voter is registered using BVR kit
BIOMETRICS: A voter is registered using BVR kit
Image: FILE

The law requires the IEBC us to use technology to transmit presidential results from the polling stations to the National Tallying Centre.

Results for other elective positions are either sent to the County Tallying Centre or to the Constituency Tallying Centre.

To avert delays in procurement of  critical elections materials, which were marred by tender wars in 2017,  Chebukati said IEBC has  started identifying suppliers.

“The commencement of this process at this time will enable early resolutions of any disputes arising from the award of supply of goods and services, thus minimising vendor wars that could derail election preparations,” the electoral boss said.

Twelve days to the 2017 election, Chebukati's team was forced to sent on compulsory leave top officials in the IT department following accusations that they had refused to cooperate in an ongoing audit of ICT systems.

The suspension was due to what was said to be a deliberate move by the officials to skew the lucrative printing tender to favour a certain bidder.

The house cleaning by Chebukati rekindled memories of the multi-million shilling ChickenGate scandal, in which  top IEBC bosses were indicted for pocketing kickbacks from a similar tender.

The ballot papers tender was cancelled twice.

It was first terminated by the High Court and then by the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board, with the latter returning a an adverse verdict on the IEBC.

The review board censured the IEBC for violating all manner of procurement rules to ensure a repeat of the first tendering process in which Dubai-based firm Al Ghurair Printing & Publishing won the deal.

Chebukati said in view of the coronavirus pandemic that has forced the government to ban political rallies, he called on politicians to follow established health  protocols until the country is safe again for normal activities.

“To complement these efforts, players in the political process must adhere to Covid-19 prevention and containment measures put in place by the government, while exploring technological means of interaction in exercise of their political rights, including holding meetings virtually,” he said.

He challenged the police to enforce the protocols without any form of discrimination against politicians who may not be leaning towards the government.

In recent days, the police have come under sharp criticism for disrupting political events organised by allies of the Deputy President William Ruto.

He said in  some of the recent by-elections across the country, there has been a worrying trend of violence and intimidation abetted or instigated by the security forces.

The IEBC boss said the National Police Service has a duty to take all necessary measures for maintenance of law and order necessary for free and fair elections.

“Indeed, Section 105(3) of the Elections Act 2011 places a superior responsibility on police officers assigned duties during the conduct of an election or referendum to be election officers for purposes of the Elections Act and declares the said officers to be subject to the direction and instruction of the Commission,” he said.

Chebukati added, “The police have a duty to take lawful instruction from the Commission to prevent violence or contain chaos .The country has been treated to ugly incidents of violence during by-elections...The Commission remains committed to delivering a free, fair and credible election free from violence and intimidation as envisaged in Article 81(e)(ii) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.

Chebukati also said the IEBC has already held talks with the National Police Service and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution to develop a security arrangement. The aim is to prevent electoral violence and facilitate prompt investigation and prosecution of perpetrators before, during and after the election. 

“It is envisaged this collaboration will create synergy and bring on board other institutions and agencies in the security and criminal justice system to address challenges  in election security,” he said.

(Edited by V. Graham)


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