IEBC: We Are Prepared to Conduct the Polls

By Wendy Mangale

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is prepared to hold the August 2022 General Election despite some budget deficit.

Acting Director of Voter Education, Partnerships and Communication, Joyce Ekuam, said although IEBC had not received the full amount of funding to conduct the elections, it was confident that Parliament would allocate the money.

Ms. Ekuam was speaking during the Kenya Editors’ Guild National Dialogue Forum held at the Stanley Hotel on February 15th.

The meeting brought together journalists, editors, human rights actors, civil society partners, and key duty bearers critical to the elections.

Ms Ekuam said the electoral body was working with media groups, stakeholders, election observers, and others to implement an election management accreditation system by the end of February.

Training and capacity building of stakeholders on election preparedness was also ongoing, she said.

“We’re trying to bring the youth on board and to build capacity for Kenyans to make informed decisions,” she said, adding: “We need to educate and sensitize the youth on the need for them to vote.”

She urged the media to help in stabilizing the nation and building public trust and confidence in the electoral process through fair and quality reporting.

Speaking at the event, Kenya Editors’ Guild Trustee Pamela Sittoni raised concern about attempts by some politicians and state agencies to interfere in media independence, terming them a “direct attack on media freedom.”

She singled out regulators Communication Authority of Kenya and the Media Council of Kenya for attempts to compel journalists intending to vie in the elections to resign. “That is the duty of the journalists’ employers who have contracts with them,” she said.

“The media has a duty to keep power in check and independent journalism is required now more than ever before,” she said.

The Guild, she said, was conducting targeted training on election reporting for newsrooms to prepare journalists for coverage of the General Election. This will curb the spread of disinformation and promote quality reporting.

Kenya Union of Journalists Secretary-General Eric Oduor urged the media to reinvent themselves to effectively cover the elections.

Lucas Kimathi, a senior human rights officer at the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) said the media owes Kenyans critical analysis of issues for informed voter decisions.

The Executive Director of CRAWN Trust, Ms. Daisy Amdany, implored the media to work together with civil society organisations to promote civic education. “Kenyan voters are grappling with many issues. Therefore, we should engage  them in civic education. ”

The Registrar of Political Parties, Ms. Anne Nderitu, pushed for the implementation of the two-thirds gender rule in party primaries to create a level  playing field.

Although parties were being trained on how to achieve this, the media, she said, had a role to sensitise women to join political parties.

She said her office will ensure that parties follow the law, use their membership registers for party primaries, and publicly communicate the dates for primaries at least a week in advance.