What you need to know:
- IEBC had sought to be allocated Sh40 billion in the current financial year but received only Sh26 billion.
- The agency is grappling with tender hitches and delay in appointing a substantive CEO and secretary.
Proper preparations are needed to ensure that the country holds free and fair elections in less than 10 months to come. This will largely depend on the performance of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). The electoral agency, which has been hobbling since the last elections in 2017, has had an injection of fresh blood with the appointment of new commissioners to replace those who resigned in a big fallout.
From just two commissioners and the chairperson, IEBC now has its full complement of seven members and should be raring to go. But there are huge logistical shortcomings that could hamper its bid for a credible general election. Due to inadequate budgetary allocation, its recent voter registration drive enlisted only 900,000 of the targeted 4.5 million new voters.
Failure to register eligible citizens as voters disenfranchises them and undermines their right to have a say in the choice of their leaders from the grassroots to the national level. IEBC had sought to be allocated Sh40 billion in the current financial year but received only Sh26 billion — a whopping Sh14 billion deficit. This could leave the agency rather hamstrung.
Tender hitches and delay in appointing a substantive CEO and secretary to the IEBC are among factors that will adversely affect its performance. Besides, the new members will still be wet behind the ears when the time comes for them to perform their most important function — supervising elections.
However, it is not all gloom. The electoral agency has an experienced secretariat that oversaw the 2010 referendum on the Constitution and managed the 2013 and 2017 fairly well, some blunders notwithstanding.
The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee of the National Assembly has been faulted by some experts “for doing little” to help the commission to prepare adequately for the elections.
A well-managed election that yields the true verdict of the voters not only enables the choice of the right leaders but also prevents disputes that breed violence. It’s not too late to get it right. Part of the solution is to the build the IEBC’s capacity to deliver a clean election.