Chebukati reveals why poll body denied KNBS key data

Monday, February 24th, 2020 07:00 |
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati at a past press conference. PD/FILE

A tussle is brewing between the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) over who has the mandate to analyse the 2019 census data on population distribution within political units.

The electoral agency says a request made for sharp-files (technical boundaries information) by KNBS was not tenable and that was the reason the files were not made available.

KNBS had requested for the information for the purpose of analysing census data and producing a basis report on population distribution by political units.

But the poll body says that it has scheduled the data analysing as part of its mandate in the boundaries delimitation exercise. IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati said in a statement that the commission had issues with the information being requested since it touched on the delimitation of electoral units.

“The commission is ready to provide the bureau with all the maps but not the technical boundaries information,” he said.

Chebukati added that an elaborate plan had already been developed to ensure a seamless process once funds are made available. However, Treasury has not factored in any money for delimitation of boundaries in the current financial year.

He said review of boundaries is the work of the electoral agency and it  was not ready to relinquish it.

“The commission expressed reservations in providing this technical information on the basis that the boundaries review exercise is an express mandate of the commission. Contrary to allegations that the commission has frustrated KNBS’ efforts, their request on  November  27, 2019 for data on registered voters per county was duly serviced,” Chebukati said.

Conclude process

The statistics bureau, Chebukati said, refused to produce a detailed data set on population within sub-locations, locations, divisions and sub-counties for the commission to populate the information into political boundaries.

He said the information was crucial in the impending boundaries review process, which the poll agency said could begin as early as next month.

The poll agency is required in law to conclude the process by July 2021— 12 months to the 2022 election— for the changes in constituency and ward boundaries to apply. “In preparation for the review, the commission has developed a Boundaries Review Operations Plan which provides a road map for the exercise. The commission also initiated capacity building of its staff, procurement of requisite tools and conduct of a pilot boundaries review,” Chebukati said. 

He, however, stressed that the process, which will be guided by the 2019 national census data from KNBS, could only kick off once funds are availed. 

The law only mandates IEBC powers to review the number, names, and boundaries of wards but cannot tamper with the number of constituencies or alter the boundaries of counties.

More on Politics & Analysis