IEBC on the spot over its ‘cloud of secrecy’ as polls approach

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati. Political players and pressure groups have raised concerns over what they described as a cloud of secrecy at the commission, with only 32 days to the August 9 General Election.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Political players and pressure groups have raised concerns over what they described as a cloud of secrecy at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), with only 32 days to the August 9 General Election.

They said IEBC’s lack of transparency had raised questions on its preparedness to conduct the elections in a credible and verifiable manner.  Vital information being demanded by the players include publication of the audit report of the register of voters, which the commission is yet to do one month after receiving it.

IEBC is also under pressure to make public the party list that contains political party nominees to the Senate and county and national assemblies.

The KPMG report presented to IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati, among others, identified 246,465 dead voters in the roll and more than 480,000 voters who had been registered more than once.

Constitutional right

Centre for Multiparty Democracy Executive Director Franklin Mukwanja said access to information is a constitutional right and IEBC should be compelled to make public the KPMG register.

“That report does not belong to Mr Chebukati, it’s public property and they should release it or they will be compelled to produce it. The question we are asking is, if he cannot share the register, what about the results?” Mr Mukwanja asked.

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party flagbearer Raila Odinga’s presidential agent Paul Mwangi said the move by IEBC to keep critical information to themselves was slowly pushing the country back to 2017, when critical issues were raised regarding the commission’s preparedness to handle to the polls.

“The commission is treating critical information as a secret. That means it is falling short of the level of transparency that is required of them. Everyone needs to call out the IEBC. It should not be left to political players alone,” Mr Mwangi said.

Mr Mwangi added that, although Azimio had written several letters to IEBC, other players should join in so that the matter is not seen as a contest between political leaders and the commission. The media too have not been able to access the information, with calls, text messages and even emails being ignored. For instance, the Nation Media Group on April 19 wrote to IEBC seeking public disclosure of the list of political party aspirants. Despite acknowledging receipt of the letter on the same day, IEBC failed to give the information.

Nominations list

The commission is also yet to provide the list of people parties intend to nominate. The names were submitted to them by the Registrar of Political Parties two weeks ago.

Orange Democratic Movement Chairman John Mbadi said IEBC ought to be more transparent if they want to win the confidence of Kenyans and political players that the elections will be free and fair.

“IEBC started out well but, with time, they have become more opaque,” he said.

Sources at the commission said all the vital information was with the chairman and that even other commissioners had no access to it. The Nation Wednesday sent messages to Mr Chebukati and CEO Hussein Marjan, but no response had been received by the time of going to press.

While presenting his nomination papers ahead of clearance for the presidential race on June 5, Mr Odinga raised a number of issues with IEBC, which to date are yet to be addressed.