Game of numbers: Polls body’s credibility has taken a big hit

Maina Kiai by Maina Kiai
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We are exactly in the spot with our elections as predicted. We have had opaque and uncertain processes around the elections, because these processes were meant to lead to a certain and specific result. 

And the numbers streaming on our screens confirm what result was intended.

Those numbers may indeed be correct, but because they have been streamed from an unclear basis, and are also contrary to the laws and regulations, they have raised suspicions and tensions. 

That is exactly the opposite of what the IEBC should be doing, unless it has orders to reach certain results, damn the consequences.

The law and process as clarified by the Court of Appeal was clear: Results are announced at the polling station and cannot be changed. 

They are then transmitted as Form 34As to the constituency level where they are all added up and a winner declared in Form 34B, because the Constitution says that presidential elections shall be conducted in every constituency.


That was ignored by the IEBC. Instead it has been working front to back: put up figures, and then get forms — faint and illegible too — to back the figures up!

That is contempt of court. But the IEBC has an air of arrogance and impunity, perhaps because it has not lost a single case since the outbursts against the Judiciary by Messrs Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. 

Or because it has suffered no consequences despite subverting the course of justice and blatant abuse of office when it purported to go around a High Court decision by re-gazetting impugned regulations.

For me, this election has been about institutions and processes than it has been about the candidates. 

Surely we all are getting tired by the tensions and worries that each election cycle brings. Surely after 50-plus years of independence, and seven years after our new Constitution, our institutions should be places of trust, competence and impartiality? 

But glaring, unexplainable issues mean that we are weakening, not building, our institutions. 


Some argue that the way to build institutions is to let them work unchallenged, and use them, even when we know exactly how they will decide. 

I find that insulting. And we did exactly this from 1963 and what we got was a shell of a state, a veneer of a nation and a kleptocratic Imperial Presidency. 

Our “institutions” were just fig-leafs for the world, so that we could look a part of the civilised world.

If anything, the IEBC has hollowed out more this year than ever before. How can it explain the gap in the numbers it has been streaming has been constant since Tuesday evening? 

And the huge numbers of “rejected” ballots? Random inputs of numbers can never produce static outputs.

But IEBC’s numbers have produced static outcomes, overturning a key law of statistics. 


This is a global first, deserving a place in the Guinness Book of Records, much like Azerbaijan’s elections a few years ago where the results were released before voting!

How can the IEBC explain that numbers were streaming on Tuesday August 8 from about 7 yet no observer noted the completion of any counting and sending before 9pm? 

How can IEBC explain that in certain key contests, the gap between the top two from the numbers streaming has been 54 and 44 — give or take — percent?

And that these figures, like the presidential numbers, never zigzagged as would be expected of random inputs of numbers?

We should have been celebrating the constitutional rights and mandates.


Now we have pundits, who normally pretend to care about human rights and justice, pontificating that we should not protest and keep that right locked up in a box. 

Yet, the right to peaceful assembly is so important at precisely this time, allowing us to collectively express our joy or sadness.

This year could well turn out to have an impact as profound on governance as the “mlolongo”elections of 1988. 

The fledging judicial independence that had started to bloom in the High Court especially has been shaken, making it harder to use the courts to mediate on political matters. 

And it could well be the year that we start serious divorce discussions of this weak nation called Kenya.



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