NAIROBI, Kenya, May 10 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has rejected the Cabinet’s allocation of Sh17.5 billion to conduct the next general elections.
IEBC Chief Executive Officer James Oswago said the commission requires at least Sh35 billion to manage the election and a possible runoff.
He stated that they had in fact budgeted for Sh41.4 billion to conduct the polls.
“What we received was Sh17.5 billion. What we had asked for was Sh41.4 billion. Even after looking at it and rationalizing what we had asked for before, the minimum we really feel that we need now is Sh35 billion for this financial year,” he said.
“So the total allocation for us to run this election, run the rerun and also continue for the next financial year is Sh35 billion.”
Speaking during a presentation to the parliamentary Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, Oswago pointed out that the deficit of Sh23 billion will affect crucial matters like litigation expenses, gazette of electoral operations, voter registration and a possible runoff.
“Our strategic operation is built on 12 different result areas. There are litigation expenses where we had asked for Sh1.8million, polling day oath of secrecy. The polling day oath of secrecy is a statutory requirement and we will be having 270,000 officials and the cost of administering it per person is Sh500,” he explained.
IEBC chairman Isaack Hassan also gave an example of a legal expense which had previously cost the commission Sh48 million.
“We actually appealed in the case (of Juja MP William Kabogo). Before we had appealed, auctioneers had already been sent to the electoral commission offices and we had to talk to the mweshimiwa himself to get his lawyers to talk to the auctioneers to stop attaching its assets,” he recalled.
“We appealed and the court confirmed that amount of Sh48 million and we paid it! It used to be Sh3 million originally, but now all of a sudden after 2007, it has jumped up from Sh10 million, Sh17 million up to Sh24 million,” he continued.
The members of the Justice and Legal Affairs committee were however not convinced by the electoral body and called on it to trim its budget.
Chepalungu legislator Isaac Ruto expressed shock at the amount and called on the commission to reduce some of its expenses.
“Generally, try to show us how you can run the elections within the reality that the country can hardly afford more than Sh20 or 19 billion. At first, I was a little bit scared of the Sh17 billion but I cannot understand why you took it to Sh41 billion. It is mind boggling,” he said.
“Tell us how to run these elections. Do not say it is not possible. Tell us how you can run the polls around the figure you have been given.”
Ruto’s sentiments were echoed by Kisumu Town West legislator Olago Aluoch who described the amount being asked for as preposterous.
“You have heard the sentiments of this committee. I think that the best way forward is for IEBC to go back and quickly look at the figures again in view of our sentiments and then isolate capital expenditure from everything else and try to scale down what you can do so and then let us have another meeting,” he said.
Hassan however made a rejoinder by stating that should the elections be conducted with the provided budget, it would take a period of three days instead of the preferred one.
“We did a mock election in Kajiado and Malindi. We have now discovered how long it takes for an urban educated voter to cast a vote for the six ballot papers. We either have long queues such that by 6pm, we may have about another 100 or 200 people which may mean that we extend the exercise to the following day. If we do this, then we will actually do this for three days and I do not know whether Kenyans will accept a three-day voting exercise,” he pointed out.
The commission has now been given until Tuesday next week to scrutinise their budget and trim it before presenting it again to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.