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IEBC's Costly Mistakes: How Electoral Body Continues To Bankrupt Kenya

IEBC Chairperson, Wafula Chebukati
On Wednesday 11 October, the High Court ruled that Mr. Ekuru Aukot, who the electoral body had barred from vying in the October 26 election, was actually eligible to vie. In addition, the rest of the candidates who vied in the August elections for the presidency, are also eligible to vie. This is one of the electoral agency's costly mistakes that are running the Treasury dry, while millions suffer poverty.

First, there is the overall cost that has accrued from the uncertain situation that Kenya has been in since the August 8 elections were annulled.
Then, there is the series of court cases that the electoral body has been involved in and lost at the expense of Kenyan taxpayers.
In its structure, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has a full-fledged legal team, that draws from the best legal minds in the country. Furthermore, the chairman and CEO of IEBC are both lawyers. Many expected that the decisions made would be solely aimed at ensuring the body does not lose cases, that have very huge costs.

READ: And The Cookie Crumbles! Supreme Court Nullifies Presidential Election

According to Treasury Principal Secretary, Kamau Thugge, the budget set aside for the 2017 General Election was Sh 49.9 billion, which means Kenya holds one of the most expensive elections in the world.
A graph comparing costs of recent elections in the world  PHOTO | The East African/Collated


The PS said that the almost 50 billion budget comprises of direct and indirect election related expenses. Direct election expenses had an allocation of Sh 33.3 billion while indirect expenses are allocated Sh 16.6 billion,”

When the election was declared invalid and the Supreme Court ordered for another fresh poll, the Cabinet, in September approved an extra Sh 10 billion and IEBC asked for an additional Sh 3.7 billion.
During the presidential petition, Sh 568 million of taxpayers money was consumed in 14 days and other election related petitions cost Sh 486 million.

READ: Is IEBC In Crisis? Disturbing Developments Suggest

According to a report by the Auditor-General, IEBC had outstanding legal bills of about Sh 1 billion as at June 2013 and some 68 advocates were paid the inflated amount,  which brought the total expenditure to Sh 2 billion.
Furthermore, the Auditor-General exposed that the IEBC had paid Sh 17 million to five single sourced law firms that were not prequalified.
A further Sh 328 million was listed as payments to 30 law firms during the 2015/16 financial year, yet there were no lawful contracts.

Conservative estimates of these costs set the cost of the numerous election petitions, which are still in the courts at Sh 5 million. Adding up all these costs, taxpayers may be looking at at least 1.5 billion and 1 billion for these petitions and the presidential petition, respectively.

What a time to be a lawyer! You get paid, whether you win or lose.

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