Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson in their book Why Nations Fail; The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty – start by giving an example of one Society divided by a border. Each side, a contrast of the other. The City of Nogales has Arizona to the North of the border (in the US), while to the South of the Border is Nogales, Sonora (in Mexico). Even though both Arizona and Sonora are composed of high Latino populations -with the same culture, language, traditions, geography and climate, life across the border is totally different. For instance, the average income of those in Sonora is only a third of those in Arizona.
In trying to explain this difference. That irrespective of geography, climate or culture, they submit that Nations will always rise -or fall- depending on the nature of their Institutions………Institutions……….Institutions.
Kenya, in 2016, experienced demonstrations majorly from the opposition parties to demand the exit of Commissioners at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission IEBC. Questioning the independence -and impartiality, of this electoral body. At one point, Suna East Member of Parliament -Junet Mohamed- would joke that they were not only going to send home 9 commissioners, but 11. The 10th and 11th Commissioners being Adan Duale and Johnson Sakaja of Jubilee party.
Juxtapose then to now!
Even though new Commissioners would later be appointed, they are doing pretty dismally in debunking the perception that they are not that…………well……….independent. From electoral amendment bill passed in parliament, to court appeals, to tendering processes (Still in the Courts) -and now, to the KPMG report that has started to shape the next political discourse.
Just the other day, IEBC would release platforms for registered voters to confirm their vote details. Stating that it has the most updated and advanced database of persons in the Country. But what happens thereafter; Individuals check their statuses. Some who had registered to transfer their details to a different station of their choice, have not been transferred. Those who tried details of their deceased loved ones, find their details still intact in the register. And the icing on this cake, random numbers giving back names of registered persons. Random numbers such as 0, 20 among others.
This, after IEBC has indicated that it has the most updated and advanced database of persons in the Country. IEBC would go ahead to term this as just misinformation on social media.
It would be very sad if this is reduced to a mere ping pong between NASA and Jubilee diehards. Why -because majority of Kenyans tested this, whether they subscribe to these two big Political formations or not. So IEBC, in the next coming days, should address this issue as succinctly as possible -because it cannot merely wish it away. Whether by making public the full KPMG audit report, publishing the full list of registered voters details -per polling station et cetera.
Look at these scenarios for instance, according to the Media Release Report on Audit of the Register of Voters dated June 9th, 2017 – the areas covered by the audit would include among others;
- Review the process of identifying and and removing deceased voters from the register of voters.
- Access the accuracy of the register of voters in terms of completeness of the details of voters data, missing of voter details (Biometrics) to the voter.
To add to this, among the recommendations and feedback from stakeholder engagement was the need to communicate the result of the audit to the public and for the commission to be accountable to the public to all the changes made to the register arising from the audit.
Still on this 11 page media release on the audit, the audit recommended that IEBC ensures that it has the systems, capacity, and CHARACTER that will enable it assert its independence.
Going forward therefore, IEBC has to put its act together and assume the needed CHARACTER. Burying its head in the sand on the high levels of mistrust in Politics is simply nearsightedness. And should seek, to a great extent, to appear to uphold sacredly it’s Vision; “A credible electoral management body committed to strengthen democracy in Kenya”. and it’s Mission; “To conduct free and fair elections and to institutionalize a sustainable electoral process.”
IEBC has to win the TRUST of Kenyans, asap!