IEBC: We’ve no funds to extend voter listing

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021 00:00 |
Faith Jemutai registers as a voter in Biashara ward, Nakuru East constituency yesterday. Photo/PD/Raphael Munge

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) yesterday ruled out extension of the voter registration exercise as directed by the High Court.

Speaking to a local radio station, IEBC vice chairperson Juliana Cherera termed the court’s decision “shocking” given that the Judiciary was aware that there are no funds to cater for such an extension.

Cherera said it was impossible for the commission to extend the registration period, which ended yesterday, by seven days as ordered by the court due to lack of funds to pay registration clerks.

“The surprising thing is that when we are at the tail end, the courts said we extend the timelines and we said the reason why we agreed on a 30-day timeline is because we do not have adequate funds,”she said.

“Such an order when it was released should have been followed by where we could get funds and this would have been perfect because the youths we have employed are being paid everyday, unless they are doing this on a voluntary basis.” 

Cherera however, said discussions are currently ongoing for a second mass voter registration exercise next year if funds are provided. 

“In our plans, we had agreed to do season one now and phase two next year when we expect that those who will have attained the age of 18 years and are having a waiting card, will have acquired their identity cards.

So far there has been goodwill, but you know we can’t start making plans unless we have been assured of funds… discussions are going on both with the Treasury and Parliament,” she said.

Yesterday’s announcement came after Justice Eric Ogolla, sitting in Eldoret, stopped the commission from closing the exercise until a petition filed by activist Patrick Cherono is heard inter parties next week on Thursday.

Periodic statement

“That pending the hearing and determination of the application inter-parties, a prohibitory order is hereby issued prohibiting the IEBC or agents acting under its authority from closing national voter registration exercise slated for closure on November 2,” said the judge.

The commission on October 4, while launching the exercise said it targeted to register six million new voters in four weeks, but a periodic statement from chairman Wafula Chebukati released last week, showed the electoral body had registered a paltry 800,462 voters by the third week.

The low numbers have particularly been witnessed in the vote-rich Mt Kenya and western regions where Handshake partners President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga command huge following.

“As at 5pm today (October 25); the commission had registered a total of 800,462 new voters out of the commission’s projected target of 4.5 million,” Chebukati said.

And in court, Cherono had asked the judge to extend the registration exercise by 90 days to allow all eligible Kenyans to register as voters.

In his petition, Cherono argued that while all adults who have attained the age of 18 years are entitled to be registered as voters, and hence the commission is obligated to continuously register them without any limitations, closing the exercise would hinder accessibility to register which is a violation of constitutional rights.

Cherono further said the extension of the registration exercise is not an exception since in the year 2017 the court extended a similar exercise that was due to end on February 14 2017 to February 19, 2017, to enable more citizens to register.

He urged the court to intervene, saying it was apparent that the electoral commission would not extend the registration period despite low turnout by citizens. 

More funds

“I urge the court to issue an order prohibiting the electoral commission from ending the mass voter registration on  November 2,  and consequently extend the same for a period of not less than three months and /for such a period that the honourable court deems fit and just, pending hearing and determination of the petition,” read the petition.

Cherono said it was evident that the exercise would not be extended because the National Assembly, which appropriates funds, had failed to allocate more funds to the commission to enable it to carry out the exercise.

“ Bearing in mind that there has been Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020 to date, Kenyans who have attained the age of majority need a humble time to exercise their political right of registering as voters pursuant to the provisions of article 38 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010,” he petitioned.

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