Massive preparations for the election are under way with the recruitment of at least 360,000 temporary staff this week.
A lot is riding on the decision of the Court of Appeal on Thursday regarding a High Court decision that blocked the printing of presidential ballot papers because the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission did not involve the public in selecting the printer.
The election is to be held in 18 days and while incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta is adamant that the poll must proceed as provided for in the law, the opposition takes the view that the election should be postponed if its conditions for a fair ballot — such as the performance of electronic equipment — are not satisfied.
More than 10 cases have been filed against the IEBC, mainly by the opposition and civil society, with the latest being brought up on Tuesday.
Among the temporary staff being recruited are 180,000 police officers to provide security at 40,883 police stations, 290 constituency tallying centres, 47 tallying centres and the national tallying centre at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi.
IEBC communications manager Andrew Limo on Wednesday said that although the commission has some vehicles, they will hire at least 25,000 more to help in the distribution of ballot papers.
“Each of the 40,883 polling stations has a vehicle, six clerks, a presiding officer, a deputy presiding officer and at least two security personnel in addition to ICT support officers,” he said in reply to inquiries by the Nation.
The polling clerks, presiding officers, their deputies, and ICT technicians will then be trained by the county and constituency trainers who have already been taken through the entire elections process.
The commission is seeking to employ 91,032 presiding and deputy presiding officers, 262,665 polling clerks, 580 constituency ICT clerks, two for each of the 290 constituencies, and 2,900 ward educators, two for each of the 1, 450 wards.
The presiding officers and their deputies will be employed on a 13-day contract at the rate of Sh2, 000 and Sh1, 800 a day, respectively.
The polling clerks will be employed on a 9-day period earning Sh1, 000 a day.
Also being sought in the massive job openings are 337 logistics officers, one for each of the 290 constituencies and the 47 counties, who have been employed on a 30-day period for Sh1,500 a day.
“We will also hire not less than 25,000 vehicles,” he added.
The election staff this year is double the 95,000 deployed in the 2013 polls, an IEBC security plan shows.
According to Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet, the security officers who will be deployed are going to be trained as special police officers whose job will be to enforce the law before, during and after the elections.
“We will be apolitical, impartial and we will apply the law as it is. We will take no nonsense from anybody irrespective of political affiliation,” Mr Boinnet told participants during the launch of a manual on election security.
On Tuesday evening, the IEBC received the first consignment of ballot papers for 41 governor elections with IEBC chief executive officer Ezra Chiloba saying they will be receiving them in batches after every two days.
“We are receiving these items here but straight away, we will take them to our warehouse, escorted by security,” he said at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
The ballot papers are for all elective position except the presidency.
On Thursday, five Court of Appeal judges will rule whether a fresh tender for the printing of the presidential election ballot papers will be required.
The commission has asked judges Erastus Githinji, Roselyn Nambuye, Alnashir Visram, Jamila Mohammed and Otieno Odek to quash a High Court order that the tender awarded to Dubai-based Al-Ghurair Printing and Publishing be cancelled.
“We will not have presidential ballot papers if we do not start printing on Tuesday as it had been envisaged. It is impossible for IEBC to kick start the tender. It will require us almost 52 days,” submitted Senior Counsel Paul Muite before the court.
The presidential election ballot papers had been planned for printing starting on Tuesday July 18, and for its last batch to arrive in the country by August 2.
While an order that a three-judge Bench of the High Court was wrong to quash the tender on grounds that it did not meet public participation thresholds will be welcome news to the commission, the reverse would have far-reaching effects on the elections preparedness and indeed the August 8 date itself.
“It is a first requiring public institutions to do public participation on procurement. It is, I would say, an experiment on the wrong specimen,” Mr Chiloba said on Tuesday.
Besides Al-Ghurair, other firms that bid for the Sh2.5 billion tender were US-based DPS Print supplies and United Print, India’s Manipal Technologies and KL Hitech Secure Print, Britain’s Tall Security, South Africa’s Paarl Media, Kenya’s Ellams Product Limited and Baltijas Banknote.
Were the commission to be ordered to undertake another restricted tendering, any of the eight remaining firms could be the most likely pick for the job.
Both the ballot papers and 45,000 Kenya Integrated Elections Management Systems (Kiems) kits will soon be sent to the various electoral zones.
This is different from the 2013 elections when, two days to the polls, some of the electronic equipment for identification of voters had not even arrived in the country.
All the over 45,000, one for each of the 40,883 capped at 700 voters, and three backups for each of the 1, 450 wards, are already in the country, and were tested as required by law 45 days to the polls.
On Wednesday, Mr Chiloba was non-committal on what options the commission had considered depending on the outcome of the case on Thursday.
By Wednesday, polls team had received 40 suggestions from the public.