Chebukati unleashes scathing attack on Raila over referendum cost

Chebukati unleashes scathing attack on Raila over referendum cost
FILE PHOTO | ODM leader Raila Odinga (left) and IEBC boss Wafula Chebukati during a past press briefing.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) boss Wafula Chebukati has termed Raila Odinga’s claims on the cost of a referendum as offensive, disingenuous and lacking objectivity.

Also Read: Raila rubbishes IEBC’s Ksh.14B projection, says referendum will cost Ksh.2B

Chebukati justified the commission’s estimated figure of Ksh.14 billion saying it was informed by historical data and previous experience in managing elections in the country.

“The Commission’s attention has been drawn to a statement by the Rt. Hon Raila Odinga in his twitter handle to the effect that the upcoming referendum cannot cost Ksh.14 billion and that elections have become one of the major avenues for ripping off the Country through various schemes. The Commission considers the statement very unfortunate and lacks objectivity and understanding of the conduct of elections…..It is disingenuous for him to cast such aspersion without seeking clarifications from the Commission,” he said in a statement.

Chebukati was responding to Mr. Odinga’s statement that a referendum should not cost taxpayers more than Ksh.2 billion.

The ODM leader argues that the commission needs to be overhauled, alluding to alleged schemes to rip off the country during elections.

According to him, cost per voter in countries that hold regular elections ranges from $1 (approx. Ksh.100) to $2 (Ksh.200), hence there is no reason why Kenya should pay more.

However, the IEBC boss on Thursday insisted that when Kenya held the 2010 referendum, the cost per voter was Ksh.794.

“At the time, these figures never attracted offensive statements from the Rt. Hon Odinga. It is disingenuous for him to cast such aspersion without seeking clarifications from the Commission,” he said, adding that the country spent Ksh.10 billion.

Chebukati went on to cite the 2017 repeat presidential election, which he noted is a single ballot election like a referendum and that according to the IEBC costed the country about Ksh.12 billion.

He averred that proposed referendum based on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) could be conducted sometime in 2021 and he estimates it will cost Kshs.14 billion.

Chebukati insisted that the commission has factored all major cost drivers such as technology, ballot papers, temporary poll officials and security, among others.

“In addition, the cost of conducting elections under COVID-19 environment is included. The Commission will prepare a detailed budget once it receives notification to conduct a referendum and such a budget will be presented to relevant institutions for scrutiny and approval,” he said.

“The Commission wishes to assure all stakeholders and the general public that it will continue to operate independently and shall not be subject to the direction or control by any person or authority pursuant to Article 249 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010,” he added.


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