March 8 2013
This letter is from a concerned Kenyan who has a lot of respect for your person and office
I am writing to you concerning the ongoing election results, especially those concerning the presidential elections. What is currently going on is a cause for worry to any Kenyan who loves this country.
You may not appreciate how apprehensive ordinary Kenyans are when it comes to delayed election results. Their memories are still very fresh when they recall what happened to them in 2007 when presidential elections results were delayed as malpractices took over at the ECK offices across the country.
They remember just too well when a presidential candidate who had stretched a lead of 1 million votes in the first two days suddenly saw his votes vanish in thin air.
They remember how the ECK Chairman, the late Samuel Kivuitu could not reach or locate officers in various parts of the country with attendant quote that the ‘Returning Officers and some Commissioners had switched off their phones and were probably still cooking the results for their masters’.
After three days of tension, Kivuitu was whisked to a security room where he announced the results for the sitting president and thereafter driven at breakneck speed to State House to go and hand over the victory certificate confirming the reelection of the sitting president. This was shortly after sunset the same day.
I do not want to repeat to you what followed. However for one month, the country was up in flames as the international community trooped in to quell the fire. Had they not intervened on time, there probably would be no country called Kenya today.
What started as a rumour about vote stealing and ballot box stuffing were later confirmed by Justice Johan Kriegler, the South African retired judge who was brought in to investigate what went wrong with our electoral system.
His verdict was telling. Everything that needed to go wrong went wrong with Kenya’s elections in 2007. He condemned the ECK into extinction.
Unfortunately, what your commission is currently doing would look like you have borrowed the same script from Samuel Kivuitu and are bent on following it to the letter. And you want to take refuge in the letter of the law to let Kenya slide into chaos. You have put Kenyans on edge and set them on the path that will make them snap. When they do, it will not look good at all.
Why do I say this? I say this because you caused the tax payers of this country to spend Ksh 25 billion to enable your commission run a smooth and flawless election. Ksh 9 billion of that cash was used to buy and install a bio metric voter register together with an electronic voter register together with electronic links and computer servers with capacity to receive, transmit and store millions of data that the exercise would generate.
Going electronic was indeed a recommendation of the Kriegler Commission. And Kenyans agreed that it was better to spend US $ 100million on that electronic system if that was the price we were to pay for efficiency, speed, credibility and peace in our country.
Indeed you assured us that your team was fully prepared with well trained personnel stationed in Nairobi and every polling station in the country. You assured us that your powerful communication system would relay results from polling stations to County Tallying Centers and then to the National Command Post in Bomas.
However, three days after voting closed, the electronic system either broke down, was hacked or sabotaged. Three days later, you still could not get all returning officers into Nairobi despite the available airlift facilities in the country.
But more disturbing was the fact that it was beginning to emerge that a number of IEBC officials both at the head office and in the counties have been discovered to be involved in numerous election malpractices.
Cases in point have been unearthed in Kitale in Tranzoia and Nyali in the Coast regions. I’m sure you are aware of arrests that were made in Kitale and Nyali in the glare of television cameras.
Just in case it escaped your attention; two computer programmers thought to have corrupted or hacked your server were arrested during the week. This criminal act made it difficult for your IT staff to restore data lost. As a result, you abandoned the electronic relay of results and ordered all rerunning officers back to Nairobi to start tallying results manually.
I know this letter may be out of step with the current PR efforts you are currently engaged in to do damage control. I can see KEPSA and VISION 2030 CEOs have come out strongly in defense of IEBC and appealed for patience. Unfortunately, that patience that Kenyans displayed for the first three days is fast fading. Businesses are suffering as a result of this state of apprehension.
That said, I must commend you for having made the right decision to abandon the failed electronic system in order to get the results out as soon as possible.
When it is over, please have a look at your administrative set up and see if it is properly constituted and well trained. You may need to overhaul the IT and Human Resource departments to avoid future embarrassments.