- The 2017 elections dragged on; they cost lives; and they went hand-in-hand with a slowing down of the economy.
- There is also need to propose and implement a series of reforms through broad consultation that includes key stakeholders.
- This is also the time to clean the register, procure the necessary technology and materials and conduct voter education.
Most Kenyans are understandably bored of talking about elections. The 2017 elections dragged on; they cost lives; and they went hand-in-hand with a slowing down of the economy, which many are now struggling with as they try to buy food, pay school fees and meet their other needs.
At the same time, many are sceptical about the point of even holding elections when – in their opinion – the loser has been announced the victor in the last three presidential elections.
However, while many are bored of thinking and talking about elections, it is clear – as the final European Union election observation report recently stated – that, electoral reforms are needed and must “be carried out well in advance of any election”.
As the report notes, “the very late legal amendments and appointment of the leadership of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) before the 2017 elections” – with new commissioners only sworn in on 20 January 2017 – “put excessive pressure on the new election administration”.
Ideally, this process of reform will start with a change of commissioners and some members of the secretariat. In short, while it is far from ideal to change the IEBC’s leadership between every election, it is clear that the Supreme Court ruling and opposition boycott fatally undermined the commission’s credibility among many Kenyans and that a change of personnel is needed.
However, such a change would ideally happen in 2018 so that new officials can come into office and oversee the reform and planning processes.
In turn, while August 2022 – when the next polls are scheduled – may seem like a long way off, four and half years is actually a relatively short time to complete the various stages of reform required.
This includes the need to appoint new commissioners and members of the secretariat; conduct an audit of what worked in 2017 and what did not.
There is also need to propose and implement a series of reforms through broad consultation that includes key stakeholders.