In a week's time Kenyans will troop to polling stations to vote. At the centre of this general election is the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. This is the body that will oversee the March 4 polls.
In the wake of the violence that erupted following the discredited 2007 general election, Kenyans are naturally uneasy this time round. They have every right to demand assurance from the IEBC that measures have been put in place to ensure credible, free, fair and transparent elections.
On Friday last week, the IEBC convened a meeting of representatives of political parties at the Sunshine Holiday Inn in Nairobi. The agenda of the meeting was to test the efficacy of the equipment that will be used in counting votes and relaying the results to a central location.
Here the IEBC organised a mock election by dividing the participants into five groups of three, each consisting a 'polling station'. The other participants were to observe results trickle in on a screen.
But when 'voting' at the 'polling stations' began results could not be transmitted to the 'tallying centre'. Much to the surprise of the participants, the equipment failed. It is only after an hour that one of the 'polling stations' managed to transmit results to the 'tallying centre'.
One may argue that this was just a rehearsal but the failure of equipment at four 'polling stations' raises more questions than answers. In the main election we will have a record 33,000 polling stations.
Results from this large number of stations are to be transmitted to the Bomas of Kenya for tallying. How can the IEBC convince Kenyans that the equipment at the numerous stations will work effectively when they have failed to work at a mere four 'stations'?
Some political parties are already alleging that there are plans to rig elections. It is in the light of these chilling allegations that the IEBC must move with speed and put its house in order.
Kenyans would hate to see a situation where the dreadful scenario that played out in 2007/08 is repeated. Superficial assurances that everything is in order and there's no cause for alarm, simply will not do, given the magnitude of what is at stake.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Strange to say what delight we married people have to see these poor fools decoyed into our condition." Samuel Pepys, an English writer was born on February 23, 1633.