The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Monday launched the Annual Voter Education Week (AVEW) that will be conducted in all 290 Constituencies for a period of 7 days.
The national launched happened at Bomas of Kenya under the theme ” Inclusive Engagement and Education for a Stronger Democracy”
The main objective of #IEBCAVEW2021 is to increase public awareness on the mandate and plans of IEBC around the electoral cycle, to educate the public on electoral boundaries delimitation processes, and to sensitize the public on the legal framework governing elections.
The Annual Voter Education Week will run between Monday June 14th and Sunday, June 20th, 2021 in all the 47 counties and 290 Constituencies countrywide.
In the week-long activity, the commission conducts a heightened countrywide voter education exercise and engages members of the public on electoral-related matters.
Speaking at the launch held at the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi , IEBC Chairman, Wafula Chebukati, said that during the exercise the Commission will sensitize citizens on the legal framework that governs election management in the Country.
The Chairman who expressed his gratitude to the British High Commission for funding the voter education week, said the IEBC is fully funded by the National Treasury, however, activities such as voter education and capacity requires donors support.
He at the same time noted that the Commission recognizes the political rights of Kenyans as well as their right to life, and assured of IEBC’s adherence to the covid-19 prevention and containment measures while executing education exercise.
“Majority of Kenyans are not aware that an election is not a single-day event. It is a culmination of robust groundwork, planning and preparation within the five years which starts after the conclusion of a general election,” said Chebukati.
He announced that the Commission has developed the IEBC 2020-2024 Strategic Plan which it shall use to uphold fidelity to the law and mandate bestowed upon them by the constitution and the people of Kenya.
Chebukati also urged Kenyans who have attained 18 years and above to acquire national identity cards and register as voters in preparation for the upcoming general elections.
The Constitution, 2010, provides that the General Election Day is conducted on the Second Tuesday of August in every fifth year for the President, Members of Parliament, Members of County Assembly, and County Governors.
British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott speaking during the event noted that inclusive voter education is an essential part of the foundations of democracy.
” For representative government –for democracy –to work, the voters need to understand the electoral process and how to participate effectively. Voters need to understand the IEBC’s mandate, strategic plans, and operational timelines before the 2022 elections. This sharing of information is also fundamental to demonstrating transparency and building citizen confidence in the election process.” She said
She said UK has a longstanding partnership with Kenya and is a committed friend.
“Our interest is that Kenya becomes ever more stable and prosperous and able to sustainably reduce poverty. Kenya is a leading democracy and is setting standards across the region. I want to be very clear here that the management and funding of Elections is the responsibility of the government of Kenya. The international community does not fund the core budgets of Kenya’s institutions, such as the IEBC.” She added
She however noted that UK wants to support the growth of Kenya’s democracy and the strength of Kenya’s institutions.
” I understand that the IEBC and other relevant stakeholders have conducted many detailed assessments and evaluations of the 2017 elections in Kenya. These provide clear guidance on how to strengthen Kenya’s systems further for the 2022 elections. The imperative now is for the IEBC to ensure the standards from the 2013-2017 electoral cycle are built upon and improved and that lessons are incorporated into the planning, management, communication and stakeholder engagement for 2022 in ways that build public trust in elections.” Said the High Commissioner
Marriott also called upon Members of Parliament to urgently conclude the processing of the pending election reforms related Bills.
In his remarks, the United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UPDK) Board Member, Erick Ngodi, said persons with disabilities should be given a chance to fully participate in politics and decision making in the country as is a precondition for their rights.
“Politics is about power which in turn influences allocation of resources. We, PWDs need to be represented and empowered to have access to information in order to make informed decisions,” said Ngodi.
He added that the upcoming elections is an opportunity to create awareness on the rights of PWD and engage election management bodies in developing materials and policies affecting them.
Commenting on the inclusivity of PWD, Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE) representative Johanna Mwihu said that collaboration between KISE and other stakeholders would ensure equality and equity for PWDs and help IEBC in moving Kenya towards a stronger democracy where all Kenyans enjoy their democratic rights.
Speaking at the event, the Maendeleo ya Wanawake National Chairperson Rahab Muiu urged the commission to involve unemployed youths in carrying out its duties.