Opinion and Analysis
IEBC must ensure integrity of polls
Posted Thursday, June 21 2012 at 19:57
A lot has been said about the coming general election, which save for a miracle will be held in March 2013. Never mind that both the presidency and Parliament would by then be in office beyond their five year terms. In Kenya everything is possible.
At Sh17.5 billion, the cost of the coming general election will be among the most expensive elections in the world. Assuming 10 million registered voters, each vote will cost the tax payer Sh1,750 ($20.60) with the figure going higher when it is later analysed against the voter turnout.
This cost compares favourably to election costs in war torn and peace keeping countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, to which Kenyan does not belong. Election costs in stable democracies (Australia, Sweden, and Spain) and emerging democracies (Botswana, Ghana, and Senegal) range from about Sh102 ($1.2) to about Sh272 ($3.2) per registered voter.
That the county, parliamentary, senate and presidential elections will all be held at once and simultaneously implies the cost is awkwardly high.
Is there good reason then, why our general election should cost $20.60 per registered voter and possibly even more? For a fact, most Kenyans have faith in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and want it supported to execute its mandate. But should IEBC almost invariably remind us of the lives lost, properties damaged and families shattered in the post-election violence to justify its funding request of Sh31 billion?
As Kenyans, we want IEBC to ensure the integrity of the coming general election is maintained at whatever cost. Notwithstanding other undercurrents, the 2008 post- election violence was the result of the public losing faith in the integrity of the election.
The integrity of the voters list and ballot papers, security of the individual voter and counting facilities and security of the ballot from tampering and manipulation were all not adequately articulated.
For this reason, IEBC should apply significant funds towards securing the integrity of the election outcome. Contrarily, the defunct Election Commission did not pay much attention to the integrity of the election and invested heavily in voting materials, logistics, salaries and per diems and other hidden and diffuse election costs.
A corollary to this is that the election result was disputed and Kenyans needlessly lost their lives.
But why is IEBC relying only on government coffers to finance the election? What happened to the international electoral donors, those that purport to be friends of Kenya? Did we ask for help and they declined?
And shouldn’t part of the Sh148 Billion allocated to the counties be applied towards elections costs? After all, the county and senate elections are for the counties and should be borne by the counties.
And why shouldn’t IEBC allow each county to maintain their voters register? The devolution of the voters register to county governments will not only reduce the routine election costs, but it will also increase the integrity of the election. In fact, IEBC county offices should be entirely funded the county governments.
If Ahmed Hassan and his team conduct the next election in a manner that safeguards the integrity of the outcome, then Sh 17.5 billion will be money well spent. No billion is worth the life of a single Kenyan
My final word to Mr. Hassan ‘don’t rest on the successful by-elections; Mr. Samuel Kivuiti had by far much more successful by-elections, but he failed at the most crucial moment’
Mohamed is a council member, Institute Of Certified Public Accountants Of Kenya