The electoral commission has kicked off preparations for the 2017 General Elections by opening up various tenders for the supply of strategic polling materials and equipment with only 260 days left to the polls.
The preparations are progressing ahead of the final exit of nine commissioners led by Ahmed Issack Hassan forced out through the enactment of negotiated legislations to give room for a new team currently being recruited.
Mr Hassan and his colleagues, the Nation has learnt, signed that they will exit on November 30 or earlier if new commissioners are picked before the date.
It is expected that interviews for the new commission chairman will be conducted on 28 and 29 of November where five candidates including Ms Margaret Wambui, David Mereka, Roseline Odede, Mutakha Mukangu and David Malakwen are in the race.
The commission is also expected to order major procurement of technology equipment including the purchase of 57,000 Electronic Voter Identification Devices. A draft regulation has been prepared to manage the use of technology in elections.
Several trainings to help build capacity of the commission especially on the use of new technology and the implementation of the new laws have also been going on around the country as election fever begins to catch up with Kenyans.
But even as the plans are underway, the all-important audit of the commission’s voter register appears to have delayed as the recruitment of a firm to undertake the activity is still on.
The auditing firm was expected to have come on board by November 3 and that the report should have been tabled in Parliament by December 18.
The hitch is attributed to the delay in assenting to the election legislations by President Uhuru Kenyatta which only came fourth on the day the commission had scheduled for the start of the audit on October 4. “Based on the new procurement timelines below the firm will come on board in November, 2016 way beyond statutory deadline set by the new law,” IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba said.
He added the commission has had to suspend the earlier planned voter inspection of the register of voters until when the audit is completed.
Mr Chiloba and the commission have proposed the review of various election timelines to avoid clash with certain proposals adopted when the elections laws were passed by Parliament.
A meeting to review some of the timelines is expected later today at the commission offices. It will affect some events in the commission’s election calendar.
Timelines previously indicated in the commission’s operational plans are expected to change grossly including the planned period within which political parties are expected to undertake party primaries.
IEBC Communications Manager Andrew Limo said the implementation of the commission’s operation plan is largely on course.
“We placed an Expression of Interest in local dailies and 11 firms sent in proposals. The first stage was like the call for papers and you want to know who is out with the capacity to audit register
As party of plans to tap in more voters in the coming elections, the commission is undertaking a special research on how to motivate potential voters to register.
According to the commission’s Director of Research Decima Myayi, the research which has kicked off in various parts of the country ahead of the Mass Voter Registration, is expected to trigger excitement in February’s planned voter registration plan.
“The aim of the research is to measure the effectiveness of different methods for encouraging voter registration in order to identify the best approaches for reaching citizens,” Ms Myayi said.
COUNTIES BEING TESTED
The project kicked off on November 14 and is expected to be concluded by December 23 this year. Nyamira, Kisumu, Bungoma, Nyandarua, Kericho,Makueni and Kwale counties are the counties being tested under the programme.
The new schedules being worked will have to accommodate the legal ones that includes a requirement that voter verifications using biometrics must be done by April 10.The exercise must legally be completed by May 10,2017 and the permanent election date expected on the second Tuesday of August which in 2017 will August 8.
On Thursday the commission opened tender bids for various polling day materials including ballot boxes to carter for new polling stations and to replace the old ones.
New laws enacted by parliament have also re-shaped the election planning with an additional cost of up to Sh 10 billion into the Sh 10 billion election budget slapped on the tax payers.
Other issues in the IEBC elections operation plans includes planned recruitment of Kenyan voters in the diaspora which is to commence on March 10,2017 for two weeks, continuous voter registration to be closed on May 10,Public servants interested in joining politics must resign by February 9 while political parties are expected to submit list of their nominated candidates latest by May 31.
The National Treasury released substantial amount of money to the commission to help fund the election preparations and is expected to inject more to facilitate the implementation of the new laws.