The report by the joint team on electoral reforms chaired by Senators KiraituMurungi and James Orengo that saw electoral reform laws passed unanimously in both Houses gave Kenyans the much needed impetus to regain their trust in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) at a very crucial moment. But those efforts now seem to be under threat.
IEBC officials have expressed fears of failure to meet key deadlines especially linked to procurement processes to obtain equipment necessary for the poll. Citing their strategy paper, the electoral commission admits the task ahead is likely to be difficult because of strict deadlines set for the allocation and distribution of polling stations as well as managing the acquisition and implementation of technology.
This is quite a blow considering the Ipsos poll commissioned by the Institute for Education in Democracy (IED) on September 18th revealed a disturbingly low confidence level in IEBC’s preparedness to handle the 2017 elections.
Perhaps we should briefly re-visit the challenges in last general elections to understand the gravity of the matter. Kenya nearly succumbed to another post-election violence (PEV) in 2013 after IEBC experienced challenges with the technology on display. Subsequent investigations later pointed out late acquisition of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR), poor training of the IEBC staff handling the technology, including Electronic Voter Identification (EVID) kits.
In the 2013 General Election, the failure of the electronic system meant to transmit results was a major debacle that informed IEBC’s decision to go back to a manual system. That we never learnt from this and are facing the same challenge yet again is a debate for another day, but first things first. Majority of the electorate in Kenya hold unsubstantiated myths about the management of the upcoming elections that need to be debunked.