Senate Minority Leader James Orengo has clashed with an IEBC commissioner over the conduct of the agency during the 2017 General Election, whose presidential outcome was nullified by the Supreme Court.
Commissioner Boya Molu had appeared before the Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights to discuss the post-election evaluation report when he found himself in the crosshairs of the Siaya senator, who was Mr Raila Odinga’s lead counsel in the 2017 presidential petition.
Mr Orengo was incensed Mr Molu's position, who appeared determined to defend the manner the commission conducted the poll, especially regarding cost.
The commissioner had told the committee that elections in the country are costly because of the sharp sectarian divisions and the obvious lack of trust among Kenyans.
“Our elections are expensive because we have decided to legislate trust. We have also decided to automate trust. Kenyans don’t trust their institutions. Kenyans don’t trust their political parties. This is a question we must confront. We must create trust among citizens not just IEBC,” the commissioner said.
He said there is a bigger social problem that underlies Kenyan elections that the country must look at if the situation has to be rectified arguing that “our elections are more of ethnic census”.
He also cast a huge doubt on the law and its prescription on the use of technology warning that “the technology is complicated” and that every complexity comes with its cost.
However, Mr Orengo rejected this line of argument, reminding the commissioner that the issue of sectarianism is not exclusively Kenyan.
“India, Indonesia, Brazil are more divided than Kenya but they carry out their election in a manner that inspires,” he charged, he said while demanding from the commissioner to explain what IEBC can do to shore up confidence in the country’s electoral process.
“We want to be in a situation where our elections will be less acrimonious. As managers of elections you must tell us what can be done so that people will accept the results of an election.”
The manner in which the commission deployed its technology in 2017 has been contentious. In fact, the presidential poll was nullified largely because the transmission of results was not deployed in the manner consistent with the law and the court of appeal ruling in the Maina Kiai case.
Delving into the issue 2017 presidential dispute, Mr Orengo told Mr the commissioner that the commission had technology but they did not use it in a manner that the law provides.
While Mr Molu said the commission complied with the law and transmitted the results in “prescribed format” as provided for in Section 39 (1) of the Elections Act.
“There are areas where there was no 4G network and we decided to transmit the results using a text message….,” he said.
Mr Orengo interrupted him demanding to know whether under the law, the commission has such discretion
Nakuru Senator Susan Kihiki supported Mr Orengo arguing that the mandate of the IEBC is to manage election and the commissioner had no business prescribing to the public how to vote, whether, ethnic or otherwise.
On Tuesday, the IEBC team submitted a new list of demands they want MPs to meet before they can commit to deliver a credible poll in 2022.