Chebukati highlights achievements and challenges as he exits office
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairperson, Wafula Chebukati, has highlighted the achievements and challenges of the Commission during his tenure.
Chebukati highlighted the effective transfer of Commission operations from 17 regions to 47 county election manager offices, complete with key staff on hand to conduct elections at any time, in a statement issued upon his departure from office.
In order to address systemic issues with the Commission’s systems and operations, he also mentioned the creation of various policy manuals and standard operating procedures (SOP).
The Chairperson also mentioned the submission to Parliament of four draft bills proposing amendments to various electoral laws, which included the Referendum Bill 2020, the IEBC Amendment Bill 2020, The Election Campaign Financing (Amendment bill) and the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021.
However, these draft bills were not enacted into legislation and this compelled the Commission to gazette administrative guidelines to address gaps in the law.
The Chairperson also mentioned the addition of 2,743,498 new registered voters and the expansion of registration centers in the diaspora by including South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi in addition to the United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK), Canada, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. The Commission created a voter list with 46,229 polling places and 22,120,458 registered voters.
Chebukati also mentioned how reusing KIEMS kits purchased in 2017 and only purchasing 14,000 new devices to replace the broken ones helped lower the cost of elections.
He also emphasized the closing of doors that might open up for electoral fraud like multiple voting or ballot stuffing. This included strictly identifying voters electronically using a biometric voter identification system, printing ballots in proportion to the number of registered voters in the various polling stations where elections were contested, and only using the printed register when technology failed.
Chebukati also emphasized a few of the difficulties the Commission faced while he was chairman. He mentioned that getting funding from the government posed difficulties for the commission, making it challenging to fully carry out some of its plans and initiatives. Due to this, the commission was forced to manage some electoral processes under tight financial conditions.
Furthermore, Chebukati said the commission encountered some opposition from some political actors and stakeholders when putting some of its activities and plans into action, which made it challenging for the commission to fully carry out its mandate.
“Divisive elections have always led to enormous political pressure being applied on the Commission as Commissioners and Staff of IEBC are always subject of ethnic profiling during campaigns and public rallies making them insecure and susceptible to attacks,” he said.
Chebukati claimed that misinformation had a serious negative impact on the commission and described it as the biggest threat to elections—even in advanced democracies.
“False accusations that have the potential to cause violent conflict are often levelled against the Commission’s conduct of elections by political players,” he said.
Tomorrow, January 17, 2023, is Chebukati’s last day in office. During his six years in charge of the Commission, he presided over two General Elections and a fresh Presidential Election.
He exits alongside two other commissioners; Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu.