Nothing irks than watching someone engage in a pointless activity; even worse when such an activity indirectly affects your life. Despite having been a King of what is now Corinth, Sisyphus is mostly remembered for the useless job that he was cursed to do-rolling a huge rock up a hill and watching it tumble down and repeating the exercise over and over. Like Sisyphus Kenyans have a penchant for using our hard earned taxes on institutions we know won’t deliver but we don’t mind the cycle. It’s our curse.
IEBC is probably the one institution that makes the whole country appear as though it is cursed. Forget the scandals and controversies’ surrounding this important commission, IEBC appears clueless about their objective, constantly giving excuses and apportioning blame unnecessarily.
Firstly, by their own admission, the recently concluded mass voter registration (MVR) missed the target by 70% as the commission managed to register slightly under 1 million. To say that was a dismal performance is an understatement. Their reason for failing to meet the target was the usual chorus- insufficient funds. Meaning Ksh. 500 million given to them was not enough to register 3 million eligible voters.
Never mind the civil society groups and activists who mobilized people online to go and register outside IEBC’s budget. The commission did not give the much needed guidance and information about the exercise in good time. Despite their continuous request for more funds there’s little evidence of voter education as can be confirmed by the results.
It appears the by-elections eclipsed the MVR which in a sense may point to the disorganization and inability by IEBC to run parallel activities. Interestingly, countries with far bigger eligible voters spend less than what IEBC requested with impressive results which begs the question: are the dynamics here too different or the commission is over relying on financial resource at the expense of strategy? And when IEBC complains that political leaders were not involved are they admitting incompetence and therefore require outside help to achieve their targets?
Admittedly, regions where leaders called on people to register had impressive results but that was partly because leaders from these regions claimed IEBC was not fully in control of the exercise and accused the government of interferences. Consequently, the commission had to clarify that the BVR kits they had surrendered to the Devolution ministry had been wiped clean of any data and could not be used for any parallel registration. Even so they went ahead to warn politicians of engaging in parallel registration.
The argument over voter apathy also holds little water as most eligible voters were turned away for having old generation ID cards when IEBC should have foreseen that challenge and acted proactively to ensure nobody was turned away. In other cases, there were fewer BVR kits prompting some individuals to make unsubstantiated allegations over favoritism by the IEBC.
We have about one year to the next general elections and the referee in this high-stakes elections four years away is still failing the credibility test. Kericho and Malindi by-elections are testaments that IEBC has a long way to go in so far as carrying out satisfactorily credible elections are concerned. All the major parties involved have cried foul and enough media reports showed political leaders in compromising situations yet IEBC did not bring any one to book.
For starters, IEBC should think less about funding and more about strategy. Strategy ensures you achieve a lot with less funds, then embark on a cleaning exercise by vetting afresh all commissioners and firing those mentioned in corruption cases or have pending cases, then seek funding.