What is IEBC doing to ensure accuracy of the voter register?

In this series, we invite readers to send questions to select public figures. Answers will be published in the next print and online editions.

Sir, why are the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners insisting on remaining in office even after handing over their resignation letters and negotiating their take home pay? What makes them think they are the only ones who can do the job and don’t they realise their continued stay in office is raising suspicions?

Dr Daluma, Likoni, Mombasa

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on IEBC recommended that “current commissioners leave office when the new commissioners are sworn in, which should not be later than 30th September, 2016”. The process of recruitment of new commissioners being undertaken by an independent panel has delayed. I hope this will be concluded soon so that everyone is comfortable.

In the past, we have seen prominent persons in rural areas take up temporary IEBC jobs at the expense of young, energetic and qualified persons. Is that going to be the trend this time and how will you ensure no bribes are paid to secure jobs?

Pamba Thomas, Busia

IEBC is an equal opportunity employer. All credible institutions win public trust by fighting corruption and unfair treatment. We are making our processes more transparent. We employ more than 300,000 temporary staff during elections. Our online application platform has just hit 120,000 applications for the January-February 2017 mass voter registration campaign.

How prepared are you for a run-off or rejection of presidential results next year?
Peter Ongera, Kajiado County

Article 38 (4 and 5) of the Constitution provides for a run-off within 30 days when there is no outright winner. This is one of the scenarios that must be at the back of our minds when planning for elections. The commission will still discharge its mandate when that time comes.

What interest do you have as the IEBC boss on the hurried procurement of materials for the 2017 General Election when your current commissioners’ terms are coming to an end? Why not wait for the new commissioners — or are you being used by powerful cartels salivating for tenders?

Kizugu Benard, Vihiga County

There is nothing being done hurriedly at IEBC. Anyone who has been following our Election Operation Plan, which we launched in February this year and reviewed recently, would agree with me that we are behind schedule. Procurement processes are lengthy, especially if they involve international actors.

Any delay in procurement may result in poor election management. The important thing is to ensure that we are compliant with the law.

The process of picking the new electoral commissioners is ongoing though it seems it has encountered many political challenges. Sir, from where you sit, does it bother you on who makes it to the commission?
Komen Moris, Eldoret

I believe the Selection Panel is doing what it can to give Kenyans a team that will steer the Commission to the next level. My job is to prepare and ensure that the transition is smooth for a credible electoral process.

Why shouldn’t voters registration be mandatory for all Kenyans attaining the age of 18 and, being in a digital age, attuned to the national Identification Card registration?
Derek Liech, Mombasa County

The idea of mandatory registration is ideal. It increases participation and cuts costs. But for it to happen, the law must be changed. The integration of voter registration with national ID card is an initiative that I personally support. However, it will not happen before the 2017 elections.

What mechanisms, procedures and processes have the IEBC put in place to guarantee Kenyans that this time round the presidential election results will be out within the shortest time possible as was the case with the just-concluded Ghanaian election?
Derek Liech, Mombasa County

The Ghanaian presidential election results were declared after two days. In Kenya, the Constitution gives the Commission seven days within which to declare results. We have developed an election results management framework that will ensure efficient processing and declaration of results. The framework is available on our website.

I want IEBC to assure Kenyans that the election will be free and fair. How are you planning to ensure there is no violence after elections because personally I feel those vying for president and governor seats should sign a document stipulating that if violence erupts they will take responsibility?
Mugambi Kariuki, Nairobi

The code of conduct obligates all candidates to keep the peace throughout the elections. We have peace committees that comprise state and non-state actors. Law enforcers should help maintain peace with or without elections. We have a specific project called the Election Security Assistance Programme, which provides a framework for collaboration with other actors in risks related to electoral violence and putting mitigation measures.

During the election period, the Commission has heavily relied on teachers to carry out some of its mandates. In the just-concluded national examinations, the Kenya National Examinations Council had to massively deploy oversight activities to ensure success. With this scenario, how do you plan to vet some of these teachers who seem to have been part of the challenges being witnessed during polling day?
Komen Moris, Eldoret

We recruit over 300,000 election officials from diverse backgrounds. In order to address your concerns, we shall have an early recruitment programme which will also focus on past performance of officials. We have elaborate training programmes and sensitisation for those who will work for us.

Of late you look to be running the electoral body as a personal business, rather than an independent public body. The opposition raises issues which are genuine, but every time I have seen you responding like a “Mr Know-it-All” or rather “Mr Always Right.” Is there something you know about the forthcoming elections that Kenyans don’t know?

Livingstone Ouma Amunga, Nairobi
It is unfortunate that that is the impression you have about my office. Managing elections entails constant engagement with stakeholders who come with different expectations. Sometimes, when we articulate issues they might be misunderstood but that is the nature of this office. I look forward to having a one-on-one engagement with yourself in the near future.

You are currently at the helm of the commission that has been accused of overseeing an allegedly flawed 2013 General Election. You were not at the commission that time. Putting in mind the challenges that marred the last election, what ideas or strategies does IEBC stand to benefit from you to ensure successful elections next year?

Edward Wanjala Mangoli, Kabuchai

Edward Wanjala Mangoli, Kabuchai

I took this job knowing too well the demands and challenges of it. It is a privilege to serve in this capacity and I am proud of the transformation we started almost two years ago. We have defined the future of elections management under three pillars: efficient and effective elections, institutional transformation and public trust. We are seeing the benefits of having a clear vision, proper planning and consistency in what we believe in.

What mechanisms are in place to ensure politicians do not violate expenditure rules during campaigns? In other words, how do you monitor spending of individual politicians putting in mind that some may use friends’ accounts to carry out monetary transactions?

The Election Campaign Financing law seeks to limit the influence of money in politics. We have established a new department that will be responsible for monitoring reporting of funds used in an election. This being the first time in regulating campaign financing, we will be keen on reporting by individuals and political parties immediately after the election.

We have also commenced capacity building programmes for political parties and individuals that are subject of the campaign financing law.

The voter register was one of the grounds for Raila Odinga to challenge the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta. What is IEBC doing to improve the accuracy of the voter register considering there are only eight months to the elections?

Paul Mwari Maina, Nyeri

The law requires us to first undertake an audit of the register. This will be undertaken by a professional audit firm. We are rolling out a massive voter registration programme in January/February 2017 to ensure the register is comprehensive enough. Kenyans will also have an opportunity to verify their details in the final register.

Could the CEO please explain if the voter register will ever be digitised so that one can check registration status at the click of a button and when will the voters register be audited?

Paul Gesimba, Nairobi

Definitely. We are going to provide alternative digital platforms to enable citizens to confirm the registration details. The law also requires that voters confirm their biometric data during the verification exercise. The Commission has issued revised timelines with respect to the audit of the register of voters.

Sir, any electoral commission in a democratic society tends to show fairness and credibility in its activities. In recent times, your commission has been infested by corruption allegations on awarding tenders.
Charles Anthony

The Commission has changed quite a bit since the 2013 General Election. We have improved our financial controls with a view to being effective and efficient with public funds. Some perceptions of corruption still linger but I can assure you everything we do is above board. If you recall, the commission successfully defended itself in the ballot paper case, a sign that we are making progress.

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