There appears to be no end in sight in the ensuing back and forth between Opposition Chief Raila Odinga and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) over the exact cost of a referendum.
Just a few hours after the Former Prime Minister lashed out at the electoral agency for suggesting that the proposed referendum would cost the taxpayer a whopping Ksh. 14 billion, the commission vehemently defended its estimates insisting that a popular initiative is an expensive affair.
In a statement released last evening by IEBC Chair Wafula Chebukati, the commission insists that Raila’s claims are “unfortunate and lacks objectivity and understanding of the conduct of elections.”
“The estimated figure of Kshs. 14 billion given to the Public Accounts Committee was informed by historical data and previous experience in managing elections in the country.” Chebukati said
According to Chebukati, the commission’s estimates are not far from the real cost citing the 2010 referendum which, he says, costed Kenyans Kshs.10 Billion even though the number of eligible voters then was much smaller than the numbers contained in the current register.
He says the cost per voter then was Kshs. 714 and that the figure would be higher if a referendum was to be held next year. Chebukati charged that as Prime Minister then, the Kshs. 10 billion referendum happened under Raila’s watch yet he never raised a question.
“It is disingenuous for him to cast such aspersion without seeking clarification from the commission,” Chebukati added
He went on to give an example of the 2017 repeat presidential poll which was a single ballot election like a referendum. He says the election cost the country Kshs.12 billion.
Chebukati says the commission will prepare a detailed budget once it receives a notification to conduct a referendum and that such a budget will be presented to relevant institutions for scrutiny and approval.
But amid this fervent defense, Raila insists that the country should be able to conduct a referendum at no more than Ksh. 2 billion for 20 million registered voters.
“Among countries with an established tradition of holding regular elections, the cost per voter ranges from approximately $1 to $2. There is absolutely no excuse why Kenya, with a long history of holding elections, should pay more,” the Ex-Premier said.