Polls agency ‘lacks cash to list voters’

By: JOHN NJAGI

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is facing a cash crunch and may be unable to implement key programmes, a lawmaker has said.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula said it was worrying that the date set by the electoral agency for massive voter registration has passed, yet there is no indication the drive is under way.

“The agency had promised to begin registration on November 15, but there is no indication that the drive has taken off,” he said.

However, in response, the electoral agency told the Senate Committee on Justice that preparations for the 2017 polls are on track.

The agency said voter education and the testing of electronic gadgets to be used, as well as their distribution to polling stations, is going on.

As the Senate voiced concern with only two years left to the elections, it emerged that the agency’s budget was cut from the Sh5 billion it had requested to Sh1.3 billion.

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr blamed the National Assembly for slashing the electoral agency’s budget.

“The Senate proposed that the agency be allocated Sh5 billion, but the National Assembly, in its wisdom, reduced it to Sh1.3 billion,” he said.

Senators who contributed on the matter said electoral officials at the grassroots were no longer conducting continuous voter registration because of lack of basic resources such as fuel.

Nyeri Senator Mutahi Kagwe said no voter registration had been done in the county in the past three years.

“Electoral officials in Nyeri County are just loitering. They are doing absolutely nothing,” he said.

Voter registration was one of the contentious issues in the last elections.

Senators also complained of failure to give national identity cards to potential voters.

West Pokot Senator John Lonyangapuo said over 150,000 people in his county have not received IDs.

Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow said the agency should consider amending electoral laws to allow other documents apart from ID cards — which are in short supply — to be used for registration as a voter.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION