IEBC says the cost of running elections in Kenya is way above what the country’s peers spend
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is proposing the reuse of election materials to cut costs.
Chairman Wafula Chebukati also wants the agency given a freehand to buy election materials locally to further manage expenses.
At Sh2, 400 per voter, last year's General Election was one of the most expensive in the world.
This expenditure by the 19,611,423 voters was Sh900 higher than what was spent by each of the 14,352,533 voters in 2013.
“We must start having a discussion now on how to re-use all the electoral materials that we used in the 2017 elections when it comes to 2022. Whether it is the voter identification and results transmission kits, or anything else that can be re-sued,” Mr Chebukati said in Nairobi yesterday when he addressed development partners at the start of a post-election evaluation meeting.
VOTER REGISTRATION KITS
In 2013, the commission splashed Sh4.6 billion on 15,000 Biometric Voter Registration Kits and Sh1.7 billion on 34,000 Electronic Voter Identification Devices (EVID).
It also bought a Results Transmission System at Sh638 million, in addition to mobile phones, modems, sim cards, projections, and other materials.
In the end, the RTS was only able to transmit presidential poll results from 14,252 of 31,981 polling stations (44.6 per cent), with the figure dropping even lower for National Assembly, county ward representatives, woman representative, senate, and governor polls.
And while the BVR system was used in voter registration last year, the commission discarded the EVIDs, the RTS and the use of BVR on Election Day, choosing a new technology — the Kenya Integrated Elections Management Systems (Kiems) to identify voters and transmit results.
The IEBC procured 45,000 of them at Sh2.4 billion. Out of its total budget in the 2017 polls, IEBC used Sh5.5 billion as capital investment on the purchase of technological gadgets and equipment.
“This idea of wasting election materials, we must discuss. If for example we do not spend money on the upgrade of the Kiems kit software in 2021, people will turn up, and demand new ones. And then we will have to spend billions again. We should be able to re-use all that is re-usable,” Mr Chebukati said.
Compared to Kenya, Ghana conducted its 2016 polls at Sh1, 200 for each of her 15.7 million registered voters, while Rwanda in August 2017 conducted one of the cheapest on the continent — with less than one dollar for each of the 6.8 million voters.
At Sh47.6 billion and with only 19.6 million voters, Kenya spent almost Sh24 billion more than Tanzania, which has 23,254,485 registered voters.
Mr Chebukati also raised an issue with the national Treasury, saying it has failed to facilitate the establishment of an IEBC Fund, an avenue he said could give the commission an opportunity to spend money long before the elections as opposed to the current situation where money is released shortly before polling.
Yesterday, Mr Chebukati also revisited his proposal to the National Assembly to reduce the number of commissioners from the current seven to a minimum of three and a maximum of seven.
“We have also agreed that we need to take lead as the election managers. We should not have a situation where we are waiting for parliament to legislate then we implement. It should be the other way round,” he said.