Photo Courtesy Daily Monitor
What you need to know:
- This blind man has a huge home library packed with serious books and is widely read.
An investigation into the events surrounding recent elections in Kenya provides a bleak outlook for this August’s general election. More details emerge on the souring of the relationship between Kenya and Idemia, the provider of biometric voting equipment and data holder for the Kenyan electorate, along with alleged incompetence on the part of the electoral commission.
Originally brought in to restore Kenyans’ faith in elections, biometrics could mire yet another election, according to the investigation.
Lighthouse Reports (‘Biometrics and the Enslavement of African Elections’), Africa Uncensored (‘Kenya’s 2022 Election: Is the Past a Prelude?’) and Le Monde (‘Inquiry into Failures of Electoral Biometrics in Kenya’) collaborated to investigate the details of the 2013 and 2017 elections, the latter being particularly fraught, as well as bringing the story to the present, three months out from the third biometric general election, already looking problematic.
In a nutshell, and as Biometric Update has reported over the years, ahead of the 2013 elections, the country’s first which involved biometrics, a tender was held which Idemia (then Safran Identity and Security) won. Idemia supplied equipment used to register more than 14 million Kenyans and despite a problematic election, Idemia “came out unscathed and holding the data of 14.3 million Kenyan voters” (Africa Uncensored) even though the election result was disputed by the Supreme Court.
In the run up to 2017, Kenya bought fresh equipment from Idemia (still Safran at this point), which still held the electorate’s data. This cost almost US$40 million. The system is intended to electronically transmit the results of each polling station to Nairobi. On polling day in 2017, the system failed, and opposition leader disputed the results. The Supreme Court annulled the election, which was rerun 60 days later.
The National Assembly recommended a ten-year ban on contracts with Idemia. The High Court overturned this and electoral commission announced it would once again use Idemia kit for 2022 and was paying Idemia for updates as of 2020.
Details have emerged as for as far back as 2013. The French Embassy in Nairobi used its influence to ensure Idemia was picked, despite being ranked second, alleges Africa Uncensored.
Suggesting something untoward within the electoral commission, “a member of the 2017 commission commented that commissioners were being ‘managed’ into selecting Safran as the vendor the IEBC [Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission] would procure directly from,” reports Africa Uncensored.
Idemia firmly rejects any allegations of wrongdoing.
New threats to a peaceful election
The path to the 2022 election has been fraught. The news that Idemia would once again supply equipment led to heavy criticism.
The new investigation shows how voter registration was successful, but the IEBC was then unable to port voter details onto the tablets or have full access to the 2017 register. The new supplier of the Kenyan Integrated Election Management System is Smartmatic (which lost the 2013 tender to Safran) and Idemia allegedly declined to cooperate, claiming the IEBC owed it money for accessing the data.
Idemia’s claim for payment from the IEBC is among others for the 2017 election. “IEBC CEO Marjan Hussein Marjan now says that the IEBC and Smartmatic now have full access to Kenya’s voter register and use of the Morpho Tablets, but says that out of Idemia’s full claim, only 86 million shillings (705,557 Euro) is payable [of the 139-million-shilling claim],” reports Africa Uncensored.
“The claim itself, and the fact that Idemia could, for a time, withhold Kenyan citizens’ data raises very serious questions about the IEBC’s contract with Idemia, a contract that has never been made public.”
The three reports detail allegations of mismanagement on the part of the electoral commission and the dangers of errors on any part leading to negative publicity, and triggering fake news in a tense setting ahead of the next election.
“As the global leader in Identity technologies, Idemia operates from over 180 countries and has a longstanding presence in Africa including Kenya,” a representative of Idemia told Biometric Update in an email responding to the reports.
“The facts on this case have been made public since 2017. No new facts have emerged since then. In 2020, The High Court decision confirmed IDEMIA has not violated any law in Kenya and its ability to continue its lawful operations in Kenya.
“Idemia and all its employees are proud to have been able to successfully fulfill their engagements to support Kenyan democracy, and humbly reaffirm today how positively it can consider the outcome of both 2017 elections, as it has been publicly stated by the International Community observers (UE, Carter Center, etc.). The Software Development Kit (SDK), firmware and drivers of the 45,000 KIEMS kits procured in 2017 are not part of the deliverables of the KIEMS contract. Nevertheless, even if the company did not wish to participate in the tenders related to the next general elections scheduled for 2022 and taking into account the tight deadlines the IEBC is facing, and lack of response from Smartmatic International B.V., Idemia delivered this SDK to the IEBC at no cost on March 31st 2022.”
Lighthouse Reports also carries this statement from the company: “All the internal and external audits – which are otherwise accessible – carried out on our services have confirmed that the company has fulfilled its obligations in accordance with its commitments.” - Frank Hersey, BiometricUpdate.com
With the official campaign period about to start, focus now shifts to the Makueni Senate seat, which Governor Kivutha Kibwana will be contesting against a host of rivals.
It will be interesting to see how Prof Kibwana wards off stiff competition from a host of competitors among them Makueni MP Dan Maanzo, businessman Patrick Mbau, former committee executive member in the Kibwana's administration Robert Kisyula, and Victor Kioko, who will contest on Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ticket.
Kibwana will vie on his Muungano party, Maanzo (Wiper), Mbau (Narc-Kenya) and Kisyula will fly the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) ticket.
Local pundits say both Kibwana and Maanzo should brace for a tough contest, especially from Mbau who enjoys the support of the youth and women.
Mbau's fortunes have increased after Martha Karua was nominated as Raila Odinga's running mate in the Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Alliance.
"The voting pattern is likely to change. It has been like leadership is for the aged but now we will elect leaders who stand for development and will not consider kingpins and parties," said Mbau.
The businessman, who is viewed as a frontrunner, believes voting based on euphoria is exploitation of voters since those they elect just become cheerleaders of party leaders.
"Big names vying for presidency tend to camp at the grassroots to convince voters to elect those in their parties, and this way people are deprived of their democratic right and end up electing leaders who can’t work for them," said Mbau.
"We want to change this narrative, and that’s why I am campaigning as a person with ideologies for a change."
The Narc-Kenya candidate is challenging Kibwana to go for a bigger national seat to pave way for younger politicians.
"I want to remind our people that parties don’t make laws, drill water or bring any development, it is the development-conscious leaders we elect who perform those functions," he said.
But Kibwana said he will win the seat based on his development record as governor.
"The number three position in Azimio-to-be government is ours and we will not leave it go. We have declared to stay in that alliance," Prof Kibwana said.
The areas the top contenders come from, their political past, party affiliation and the youth factor may dictate who wins in Makueni.
Maanzo, who is serving his second term, is from the drier countryside of Kanthuni, in the larger Makueni Constituency which has 91,227 registered voters.
Prof Kibwana is from Mwanyani, on the upper side of Kibwezi West Constituency which has 81,426 voters while Mbau comes from Kaiti constituency, which has the least number of registered voters at 58,303 according to data from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
As the race hots up, Kibwana has maintained a tight campaign schedule traversing the county in search of votes while commissioning projects ranging from water points, dispensaries and roads.
He has been wooing electorates to consider his candidature as 'critical' in protecting fruits of devolution.
"The Senate needs people who have the knowledge to make laws, approve Bills and ensure more resources go to the counties," Kibwana has been saying in his meet-the-people tours. - Stephen Nzioka, The Standard
If you just confine yourself to the vibe on social media, you’d be perfectly excused to think that there are only two presidential candidates in the run up to Kenya’s general election: the tried and trusted weather-beaten old goat Raila Odinga, who has stood the test of time in the rough and tumble of Kenya’s Byzantine politics; and the smooth-talking, suave, cunning and crafty fox that ‘Chief Hustler’ William Ruto is.
And you might be wondering whether it is the might of the system and a sympathy vote that will see the elderly Raila through; or the bare fact that in politics, just like in the jungle, the guile and sheer cunning of a fox always ensures that it will find a way out of anything.
Strange as it might seem, there are actually other candidates in the race. One of them is one of a kind: a blind man. Such is the power of social media that it builds bridges to people and places in a way that was previously thought impossible.
You get the feeling that you have actually ‘met’ someone without ever physically meeting them and you feel you have been to certain places, without physically setting foot there.
That is how I met gospel singer Reuben Kigame – on YouTube – where he is featured prominently on numerous channels, including his own “Reuben Kigame TV”. I had never felt inferior to anyone in my life; but I did feel overwhelmingly inferior when I encountered Reuben Kigame.
A man who lost his sight at the age of three and has spent the last 53 years without the ability to see has soared to heights that many of us who have two good eyes and just about every other ability, have not even dared dream about.
Without any eyes, Kigame attained a degree in Education, a Master’s degree in Journalism and Media Studies and last I checked, had embarked on a PhD. This blind man has a huge home library packed with serious books and is widely read. When you listen to him, you realise he is an unfathomable intellectual. And as men with two eyes were fearing to get married, Kigame got married to his high school sweetheart Mercy, built a wonderful family, and even when she perished in an accident in 2006, he recovered from the loss, remarried and willed himself on.
He plays the keyboards, guitars and drums without any problem. He is a highly gifted singer – sings while plucking away at the guitar or the keyboard – and has produced many songs. He is able to compose, sing and produce his musical works. It took me a while to actually see that he was blind, because watching him in a live performance, he was freely singing and playing the keyboards and moving all over the keyboard with versatility.
His mother only noticed something was wrong when, at the age of three, at dinner, he reached out for his plate of posho and missed!
She wondered how one could miss a plate right under his nose. But by then it was too late for doctors to do anything for his eyesight, maybe a lesson to all parents that we have a duty to watch our children carefully as they develop and take timely interventions, lest anything goes badly wrong.
Yet the tragedy, instead of downing him, inspired him to excel, thanks to his family which supported him and spurred him on – again a lesson to parents that when we stand by our children, they will never fail.
A very highly political animal, Kigame has been highly involved in the Kenyan political space. He has consistently opposed and even taken part in demonstrations against bad governance, ran for Vihiga County governorship in 2013 and recently won the backing of the Federal Party of Kenya as their candidate for the State House race.
While in Uganda able-bodied people, with Masters and PhD degrees are convinced that the best way to guarantee their future is to lick the boots of the First Family, a blind man in Kenya is defying the odds, not only to excel in his family and career lives, but is also assuring 56 million Kenyans that he is the best candidate for the presidency. By Gawaya Tegulle, Daily Monitor
The European Union and its partners reimbursed Kenya nearly Sh2.54 billion for troops fighting Al-Shabaab militia in Somalia in the nine months to March 2022, missing the target for the period by seven percent.
The Treasury data shows grants from the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) — whose mandate ended in March — missed its target of Sh2.73 billion by Sh191 million.
The quarterly disbursements were, however, Sh811 million, or 24.23 percent, lower than Sh3.35 billion which were reimbursed in a similar period in the prior financial year.
The United Nations Security Council at the end of March voted for a transitional African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia after it reconfigured the operations of Amisom which has been in the war-torn country for about 15 years.
Somalia finally conducted a presidential poll on May 15— after being delayed for more than a year— electing former leader Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to serve for four years. Mr Mohamud, who defeated the incumbent Mohamed Abudallahi Farmajo, had previously led Somalia between 2012 and 2017.
Under the Amisom, the EU funds largely catered for allowances for the about 20,000 Amisom troops and police, international and local civilian staff salaries and operational costs of their offices.
The United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), on the other hand, provided logistical field support to the Amisom troops and Somali National Security Forces during joint operations.
Kenya formally sent about 4,660 soldiers to Somalia in October 2011 after incessant attacks and kidnapping of civilians by Al-Shabaab militants within its territory, numbers which have since been gradually trimmed.
A year later, the UN Security Council gave Kenya the green light to join Amisom, a decision that meant the Treasury would not bear the full costs of the incursion.
Treasury Principal Secretary Julius Muia told lawmakers last July that the exchequer funds Kenya Defence Forces operations in Somalia, cash which the Defence ministry refunds once they are wired by the African Union.
The refunds are paid through the African Union Peace Facility to the Defence ministry.
Conservative estimates earlier showed the international community pays $1,028 (Sh119,248 under prevailing forex rates) for each soldier per month.
Their respective governments then deduct about $200 (Sh23,200) for administrative costs, meaning the soldiers take home about $800 (Sh92,800).
Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), in the book titled "War for Peace: Kenya’s Military in the African Mission in Somalia, 2011-2020"— published May 8, 2020 — suggests that reforming the Somali National Army to take charge of sustainable peace should be the first pillar of the exit plan. By CONSTANT MUNDA, Business Daily
Kenya has been handed the right to host the World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally every year until 2026. This was announced yesterday by President Uhuru Kenyatta after the country’s successfully lobbied for the hosting rights following a smooth event last year.
The organisation of last year’s event which was returning to the WRC calendar after a two-decade absence was awarded an ‘A’ rating, a factor for the assurance of four more years.
Last year’s event was won by Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier is believed to have contributed Sh6 billion shillings to the Kenyan economy. This year’s race is also set to be held in Naivasha and will be between June 23 and 26.
Meanwhile, WRC legend Sebastien Loeb is bracing for a grand comeback to next month’s Safari Rally in Naivasha for the first time in two decades.
The Frenchman has a sentimental attachment to the picturesque Great Rift Valley terrain where he finished fifth in the 2002 WRC Inmarsat Safari Rally navigated by Daniel Elena in a Citroën Xsara WRC.
The nine-time WRC champion made a comeback to top tier rallying during January’s WRC Monte Carlo Rally where he beat rival and compatriot Ogier to score an 80th career win.
Loeb is tackling his first gravel rally of the 2022 season in an M-Sport Ford Puma in Portugal this weekend where he joined a strong field of 12 Rally1 hybrid entries.
In Kenya, the legendary driver will renew his rivalry with Safari’s defending champion and eight-time world champion Ogier who is in the Toyota Gazoo Racing lineup for Safari. Loeb is part of a six-car M-Sport World Rally Team lineup for Safari alongside Briton Gus Greensmith, Frenchman Adrien Fourmaux, Craig Breen of Ireland, Martin Prokop (Czech Republic) and Belgian Jourdan Serderdis.
Loeb told www.autosport.com this week: “The first feeling in the Puma on gravel at our test was quite good, I was quite happy with the feeling I had as we worked on the suspension and the differential setups,” said Loeb, who is also set to participate in the WRC’s 50th season celebrations this weekend.
Loeb is the most successful driver in the World Rally Championship (WRC). He won the world championship a record 9 times in a row and holds several other WRC records, including most event wins, most podium finishes and most stage wins.
Loeb retired from full-time WRC participation at the end of 2012. He currently drives part time in the WRC for M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, full time in the World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) for Bahrain Raid Xtreme and full time in the Extreme E Championship for Team X44.
Originally a gymnast, Loeb switched to rallying in 1995 and won the Junior World Rally Championship in 2001.
He was signed by the Citroën World Rally Team for the 2002 season, and together with co-driver, Elena racked up their maiden WRC win that same year at the Rallye Deutschland.
After finishing runner-up to Petter Solberg by one point in 2003, Loeb took his first driver's title in 2004.
Still, with Citroën, Loeb went on to take a record ninth consecutive world title in 2012. Loeb is a tarmac expert, having won all but three of the WRC rallies on that surface in which he has participated between 2005 and 2013.
In 2018, Loeb won the Spanish round of that year’s World Rally Championship, in a rare entry six years after his retirement as a full-time WRC driver.
WRC Safari Rally Kenya is being sponsored by KCB Bank Kenya and Toyota Kenya among others. The event will revolve around Nairobi and Naivasha covering a total distance of 1226.23km between June 23 and 27.
Shakedown returns to Ndulele Conservancy on June 22. The Super Special Stage also returns to Kasarani on June 23 where WRC crews will recce in their Rally 1 hybrids.
By Edwin Otieno, PD