Dar es Salaam and Nairobi — THE technology employed in tallying votes in the Kenyan general elections has been hailed for increasing transparency, as Tanzania prepares to employ a similar voting technology in its 2015 general election.
Speaking to 'Daily News' at different times yesterday, the Deputy Minister for Communication, Science and Technology, Mr January Makamba and the Minister of State in the President's Office, Civil Society Relations and Co-ordination, Mr Stephen Wassira, said use of the voting technology will increase transparency.
Mr Makamba said in every election Tanzania has been improving, albeit in a small way, noting that in the coming election National Identification Cards, which uses the technology of finger print, will be useful in voter identification, hence reducing cases of forging."Although many countries in Africa are still using the manual system in voting, slowly we are moving towards use of technology in voting.
We are now in the process of moving from manual to using technology, for instance the national IDs which have finger prints for identification, will be used in the 2015 general elections," Mr Makamba explained.The Deputy Minister for Communication, Science and Technology, commended the use of the voters technology, which he said increases transparency, an important tool in giving electoral process legitimacy.
He, however, noted that the system failed a number of times, prompting many polling stations to revert to the manual system.He also underscored the importance of media to invest in technology noting that in Kenya the media is also playing a key part in bringing timely tally of votes to the public.
"This makes it easy for the public to follow the tallying process, which comes on the screens as the tallying process continues," he explained.Mr Wassira declined to comment directly on Tanzania's stand over use of technology in the coming election. However, he said Kenya has invested heavily on voting technology which has enhanced transparency despite a number of system failures.
"Although it had some shortcomings, the technology process of identifying the voters using finger prints made the whole exercise go faster, which also addressed the issue of people who vote more than one time," Mr Wassira noted.
Both, the Deputy Minister for Communication, Science and Technology and the Minister of State - President's Office, Civil Society Relations and Co-ordination commended the big turn up of voters and the peace that has reigned given the clashes in the 2007 general elections."This shows that Kenyans have decided they do not want to go back to what happened in the 2007 election. The whole world is watching, there are a lot of international observers following the election, but Kenya is presenting a general picture that they have learned lessons from the previous general election marred by bloodshed," he explained.
'Daily News' tried to contact the Director of National Electoral Commission (NEC), Mr Julius Malaba, but he could not be reached.According to reports from Kenya, within hours of the opening of the polling centres in Kenya, reports from around the country announced the failure of the biometric voter identification system.
This technology that recorded voters' fingerprints and other biographical data during the voter registration process, was meant to then identify registered voters on Election Day, using Kenyans' individual biometric identity information. Due to a number of problems, including power outages, low battery life of the devices and polling officials' difficulty accessing the central system. However, many stations had to resort to using the manual register.Apparently the use of the manual register made incredibly long lines even slower to move.
Meanwhile, after the most fiercely contested general elections in its 50 years of political history, Kenyans woke up in peace and normally back to work as vote counting goes on in the country and results trickle in to the Bomas of Kenya National Tallying Centre in the country's capital of Nairobi.
Generally work is in low ebb as many workers had been allowed time off to their voting regions and offices are running on skeleton staff.
Dominating the atmosphere in Nairobi is the anxiety about who is leading in the presidential race as returns keep coming in. Political parties and the public in general have complained at the slow pace of the results' flow to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in Bomas of Kenya.
IEBC Chairman Issack Hassan has called upon the media to desist from making any conclusions concerning results because votes are still being counted. "So far we have received results from only 10,036 polling stations spread across the country. We are yet to receive from 23,000 polling stations across the country, counted and over 30,000 are yet to be," he told the press at the General Elections Tallying Centre at Bomas.
Hassan reminded the public that IEBC is allowed by law to give results in seven days. "We are only able to make projections in 48 hours with the votes we shall be having. But as things stand, it is too early to call."The IEBC Chairman was addressing the press at 12 pm. By then one of the chief presidential contenders Uhuru Kenyatta of the he National Alliance was leading the race with 54.51 of the votes counted, the equivalent of 2,484.760 voters. Raila was close behind him with 1,884,152 votes, the equivalent of 41.04 per cent of the votes counted so far.
Uhuru has swept the votes in his home provice of the Rift Valley just as Raila has given him a daunting defeat in his region of Western Nyanza. Such results have proved that Kenya still elect their leaders on ethnic lines and small communities will take long to produce the president.The results at the time contradicted the latest opinion polls that put Raila ahead by 51 per cent and Uhuru trailing him close behind by 50.
Many CORD followers have been alarmed by the wide margin between Uhuru and Raila. However, they have consoled themselves by saying it is only a small percentage of the votes that have been so far returned.
Mr Hassan has, however, asked for patience, saying that, although in some areas, the counting is almost over: "We expect the Returning Officers to file their return to the National Tallying Centre by this afternoon. We therefore continue to appeal for patience from the public, the political parties as well as the candidates." He told the press.