Probe theft of election kits and punish culprits

The revelation that some vital election equipment with crucial data was stolen before the general election of August 9, last year, is shocking.

Elections are the chosen, preferred, treasured and proven means through which Kenyans pick their leaders right from the grassroots to the presidency, the highest office in the land.

At the core of the democratic system is the opportunity voters have to exercise their right to determine who gets the mandate to lead them.

It is important, therefore, that the system is secured so that it is not manipulated by individuals or groups with ulterior motives. Since Independence 60 years ago, Kenyans have every five years without fail, chosen their leaders in elections with varying degrees of success and transparency.

Managing elections is the main business of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which is allocated adequate public resources to secure not just the process but also personnel and equipment.

Questions raised

The thefts raise questions about whether elections in the affected areas were free and fair and if, indeed, the true verdict of the voters was realised.

A document presented to Parliament reveals how IEBC may have lost election equipment worth billions of shillings and some containing crucial data. The dossier presented by IEBC Chief Executive Officer Marjan Hussein Marjan to the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) raises crucial questions on the credibility of recent elections.

The thefts reportedly happened between 2013 and 2021. In some areas, the equipment was stolen just after the mass registration of voters a few months before the 2022 General Election. It is suspected that the huge loss may have been an inside job.

There were no break-ins, indicating that the suspects, who are yet to be arrested, had prior knowledge of the warehouse. There is also talk of cartels operating in the ICT section.

This matter should be conclusively investigated and the equipment that may still be in the wrong hands recovered, as the suspects are pursued and arraigned. The IEBC must tighten its controls to prevent a repeat of the devious actions of the masterminds and their hirelings.