August 9

State House race: Candidates to spend Sh500m on agents

Monday, July 18th, 2022 02:02 | By
Poll agents lawmaker
IEBC officials observe voting during the 2017 General Election at a polling station in Mombasa. Photo/PD/FILE

Each of the four presidential candidates will be required to part with at least Sh140 million to secure their votes in all the 46,232 polling stations where voters will cast their ballots in next month’s General Election.

With the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) having already mapped and gazetted the polling stations, each presidential candidate will be required to hire at least one agent for each of the stations. That means setting up a team to hire the 46,000 agents. The minimum daily wage for each is expected to be Sh1,000.

In the past, it has taken the commission anywhere between three to seven days to complete counting and tallying of presidential election results, which are usually the last to be counted at every polling station and tallied at constituency tallying centres.

 Declined to talk

Officials of various political parties involved in the campaigns who spoke to People Daily yesterday were in agreement that Sh1,000 was the least they expect to pay agents for both their time and loyalty. Respective parties, however, declined to give details for fear of making their plans known to rivals.

Going by previous elections, the agents will be required to remain at polling stations for about three days before IEBC announces the winners of various seats. If the trend is maintained, this is likely to cost each candidate about Sh138,696,00.

However, this cost could go up should parties and candidates decide to hire more than two agents, especially in battleground areas and in their rivals’ strongholds. The prolonged time it takes to tally the results at the constituency level could also increase the cost further.

Instructively, the Sh140 million does not include the cost of training the agents.

The decision by parties to hire agents is informed by a judgment of the Supreme Court in the Maina Kiai versus IEBC case of 2017. While nullifying the presidential election that year, the court ruled that results announced at polling stations should be considered as final. That means the electoral commission cannot change the numbers at the national tallying centre at Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, or at constituency tallying centres.

Presidential candidates are allowed to have at least one agent per polling station.

The current 46,232 polling stations are an increase of 13.08 per cent from 2017 when IEBC gazetted 40,883 polling stations.

Number of registered voters has also risen from 19,611,423 to 22,120,458 — representing a 12.79 per cent jump — which means it will take election agents longer to count and tally results.

Yesterday, a source at Deputy President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance said the elections will be costly but they are putting measures in place to ensure their votes are protected.

The source said that the Kenya Kwanza chief presidential campaign manger, Prof Kithure Kindiki, had taken a break from campaigns to focus on preparing the budget to pay agents.

“Certainly, we will have agents in all the 46,000 polling stations,” the source said. “They will remain there until the exercise is done. We are ready for this,” the source said, requesting anonymity for fear of being accused of revealing the alliance’s campaign strategy.

His view, however, was similar to earlier assertions by Ruto’s presidential campaign head, Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok, who is on record saying that Kenya Kwanza will hire agents in the over 46,000 polling stations and 24,000 centres.

A polling station is the equivalent of a classroom in a school. A polling centre is equivalent to the school. A polling centre can have many polling stations, which are traditionally arranged in the alphabetical order of the names of voters.

Azimio-One Kenya Alliance, whose presidential candidate is former Primer Minister Raila Odinga, has in the past hinted that they would use over 100,000 agents to relay results from all polling stations.

Yesterday, Paul Mwangi, the chief legal advisor for Raila’s presidential secretariat said his team would disclose the exact number of agents to be hired next week. “Those are the things being handled at this time,” he said, but declined to give more specific details. “We are at the stage of campaigns where such issues of agents must be discussed. I will be able to give details after one week. I would not want to divulge more,” he said.

As part of the coalition’s strategy to raise funds, Raila invited powerful business leaders for an exclusive dinner at the weekend during which guests paid Sh1 million per plate.

The night fundraiser held at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi attracted deep-pocketed politicians and private sector tycoons, mostly drawn from the Mt Kenya Foundation, a billionaires club patronised by business leaders from Central Kenya.

Insiders say part of the money raised will be used to pay agents and deploy technology to monitor the transmission of results.

Agano Party presidential candidate Mwaure Waihiga also confirmed that his party had started recruiting agents who will then undergo training.

“We are targeting to have agents in all the polling stations,” he said.

Cash constraints

However, when he was launching his manifesto earlier, he said he had chosen a modestly priced venue due to cash constraints. The other presidential candidate, George Wajackoyah, is out of the country for a visit to the United States.

Last month, IEBC encouraged political parties, the media, civil society and other stakeholders to conduct their own tabulation of results to build trust in the polls. “You (political parties) are allowed to tally your results; the media should also tally the results. There will be a platform where the forms, when they’re transmitted, will be collected and ... you can have access,” said IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati.

This election will also be the most expensive for IEBC as it plans to spend about Sh42.5 billion Out of this sum, Sh16.9 billion has been set aside for election activities while another Sh2.5 billion has been earmarked for training polling officials.

The commission has said it will recruit a total of 302,860 counting clerks and 52,481 presiding officers and deputy presiding officers.

Each presiding officer will earn Sh2,000 while their deputies will take home Sh1,800 per day.

IEBC also requires 389 logistics officers, who will be paid Sh1,500 daily, and another 5,827 electoral trainers who will be paid Sh2,000 per day. The commission is also seeking to hire 580 ICT clerks at a cost of Sh1,500 per person per day.

Polling and counting clerks will make up the lion’s share of IEBC’s job vacancies since about 302,860 of them are required.

They will each be paid Sh1,000 per day.

County-based voter educators (47) will receive Sh2,000, constituency-based voter educators (290) will be paid Sh1,500 per day, while ward-based voter educators (2,900) will take home Sh1,000 daily.

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