The electoral commission will on Thursday issue an elaborate Sh45 billion plan for the 2017 polls whose focus is the improvement of vote-tallying and results-relaying technology.
A plan seen by the Nation incorporates a massive budget — with an equally massive procurement plan to go with it — by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, chaired by Ahmed Issack Hassan.
The budget is likely to send shockwaves through the government financial system. Kenyan elections tend to be expensive and wasteful because of corrupt procurement.
Only this week, a British firm, Smith & Ouzman, was fined for, among other things, conspiring to pay bribes to Kenyan election officials, including some who are still in service.
On the other hand, the opposition Orange Democratic Party is jittery and distrustful of the IEBC and on Wednesday demanded that the tender for the Visual Private Network (VPN), the platform on which the Presidential election results would be transmitted, be bought abroad without the involvement of local companies to avoid exposing the process to political manipulation.
HOW THE MONEY WILL BE USED
The IEBC budget shows the commission would require Sh30 billion to prepare for the election and an additional Sh15 billion for normal operations.
Only 10 per cent of that budget is expected to come from donors.
More than Sh14.3 billion will go to staff and administrative costs, Sh10 billion will be spent on electoral logistics and Sh 7 billion on voting materials and ballot papers.
A whole Sh916 billion is to be set aside for managing election results and tallying centres while Sh475 million will go to security.
Mr Hassan declined to comment on the plan, saying: “We will not talk about it now. Wait for us to unveil the plan on Thursday (today).”
An Elections Operations Plan (EOP) draft seen by the Nation shows that the commission is concerned about building an effective technology to help salvage its reputation in 2017.
“The commission will integrate electoral technologies in the forthcoming elections and build the human resource capacities required for effective management of the election process up to proclamation of the results,” read the EOP draft.
The commission has put down a 15-point plan on improving electoral technology, including improving the security of its computer systems ahead of the election.
“The commission will conduct nationwide simulation and pilot test for nomination system electronic voter identification devices and results transmission system,” the commission said in the draft plan.
The plan also includes a proposal for regulations to manage political party nominations, improvement of ballot paper colours, review of the number of polling officials per station and development of a women situation room to track issues affecting women during elections.
Part of the commission’s plan is also to mend its dented image by putting in place a proper communication strategy in order to win back public trust.
On Wednesday ODM Director of Elections Junet Mohammed claimed the party had information the commission was negotiating with a local telecommunications company to supply the infrastructure to transmit election results.
“We know they have been meeting in Naivasha and they have agreed to invite a local company to supply the infrastructure that will be used to relay results in the presidential elections. This time we will not tolerate any jokes regarding this matter. We need an internationally qualified tender for supply of vital systems like this one,” he said.
He said the party would also demand the publication of a list of all shortlisted job seekers at the commission and those eventually recruited, including their counties, locations and villages.
Said Mr Mohammed: “In the last elections over 300 mercenaries from national security agencies were hired to work in operational establishments within the commission in a syndicate aided by two ex-military officers. This time round we are keeping watch.”
VOTER REGISTRATION KITS
He also demanded that the commission explain the whereabouts of 13 biometric voter registration kits and give an assurance that they would not be used to give one political side an undue advantage during the February–March voter registration drive.
And speaking to the Nation from Naivasha, where the commission is meeting to finalize the election road map, Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba denied that a local mobile phone company had been earmarked to supply their presidential election transmission platform.
“We have not even began the procurement process yet. We have not settled on any company to supply the vote tallying and result transmission infrastructure,” said Mr Chiloba.
He also said that the commission is keen to have a transparent process and that as usual the names of all shortlisted candidates for IEBC jobs will be published.
The National Alliance party chairman Johnson Sakaja asked ODM to allow the commission to work independently and handle administrative operations without undue influence.
“ODM and Cord are becoming petty. They should have confidence in local companies. A company like Safaricom is the leading telephone network provider here. Will they also demand that we procure from foreigners the telephone networks platform that IEBC officials will use on the ground?” Mr Sakaja wondered.
And the timelines provided by the commission will require all public officers seeking to participate in the General Elections to resign by February 9, 2017 while fundraising by political aspirants must also end on the same day.
Parties will also be required to submit the list of candidates they have nominated for various offices by May 31, 2017.
The commission also plans to undertake two mass voter registration exercises, with the first one starting next month and the other later in December.
According to the road map to be launched on Thursday at the Intercontinental Hotel, the election will be held on Tuesday, August 8, 2017.