A man thought to be a top official in charge of last yearâ€™s bitterly contested presidential elections was caught on tape questioning the credibility of the process a day before the results were announced, the Sunday Nation can reveal.
The purported senior official of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is said to have been secretly recorded on the eve of the eagerly awaited announcement of the presidential election results last year casually discussing the intrigues surrounding the polls.
The phone conversations with another man thought to be a sympathiser of Raila Odingaâ€™s Cord range from doubts about the voter register to admitting the alleged manipulation of electronic systems.
The Sunday Nation contacted multiple sources who confirmed that a top IEBC official had been recorded discussing the election last year.
â€œWhat I can say is there are so many things that went wrong in this election,â€ the official is recorded as saying.
Jubilee presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the outright winner on March 9 last year with his Cord opponent Mr Odinga coming second in a field of eight candidates. Cord unsuccessfully challenged the results in the Supreme Court.
The recording is said to be part of a dossier on the election commissioned by Cord, the preparation of which the Sunday Nation reported on March 23. The latest revelations come as the IEBC announced on Friday that it had published on its website a comprehensive report and analysis based on data from last yearâ€™s elections. The data covers the number of registered voters, turnout and the votes obtained by various candidates. (READ: Cordâ€™s â€˜explosiveâ€™ poll dossier to be released)
But it is the recording of the top insider questioning the integrity of the March 4 election results that could trigger further debate. In one instance, the man claims the commission was infiltrated before the elections and may not have been in full control of its electronic systems.
â€œSo their strategy began at a very early stage. The other thing is that they also infiltrated this system we were using of electronic transmission,â€ the official is heard saying. We could not establish who he was referring to as â€œtheirâ€ and â€œtheyâ€.
The official claims to have identified one of the alleged moles, who was recruited about four months before the election from a state agency with the help of powerful individuals. He further notes there may have been more such â€œinfiltratorsâ€ whose brief was to manipulate electronic data.
The man claims to have raised the issue of the integrity of the data with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, who were assisting IEBC to set up the system, but he was assured all was well.
â€œI knew they might infiltrate the system, so I was doing everything I could to prevent that. The only thing I didnâ€™t know is that they could bring their own people from outside to do it, just like you would employ a cook at your home only for him to turn out to be a real enemy,â€ he says.
March 4, 2013 marked a watershed in Kenyaâ€™s history as it was the first time a General Election was being held under the 2010 Constitution, which included the new devolved system.
That meant there was voting for six positions â€” President, Governor, Senator, Member of Parliament, Women Representative and Member of the County Assembly. The new requirement that a winning presidential candidate had to get 50 per cent plus one vote of the total votes cast created the possibility of a run-off between the top two candidates if no one attained the mark.
The IEBC was also introducing a biometric voter registration and identification system on a large scale for the first time. This was on the back of a successful referendum in August 2010 and various by-elections whose results were transmitted in real time.
But on D-Day the electronic voter identification devices largely failed, and officials resorted to the manual system. This was later blamed on a number of challenges, including late procurement, lack of training and loss of battery power.
But more bad news was to follow after the results transmission system at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi that was meant to show outcomes from various constituencies failed to function fully, and its use was subsequently suspended. The supposed IEBC official caught on tape doubts the authenticity of the results initially transmitted to Bomas, saying their pattern was too â€œregularâ€ to be true while the high turnout in some areas could not be explained.
â€œThe only thing I donâ€™t know and canâ€™t understand is how the results can be so constant. In an election where the results are coming in randomly, you expect that one person would be leading and maybe the other catches up and they are overtaken again and so forth, isnâ€™t it? It cannot be that everything is so constant especially in a closely fought election,â€ he says.
While the results of other positions were largely undisputed, the wait for the final presidential vote tally was eventful. Rumours swirled that some IEBC officials had been kidnapped or bribed, while political parties protested the removal of their agents from Bomas of Kenya.
While the IEBC justified its action at the time citing interference from the agents, the views of the man thought to be one of its senior official secretly recorded on March 8 â€” a day before Mr Kenyatta was announced winner â€” tells a different story.
â€œHow can you kick out someone who is simply observing what you are doing and not interfering with your work? You cannot do that unless you can demonstrate that the person is interfering with the process, and that was not the case,â€ he is recorded as saying.
Even though Cord was dissatisfied with the results, with its presidential candidate Mr Odinga giving the impassioned â€œdemocracy on trialâ€ speech, there was no recurrence of the 2007 violence.
Instead, Mr Odinga went to the Supreme Court to challenge the Jubilee victory. Africog, a non-governmental organisation, had also filed a similar petition, while Jubilee activists Denis Itumbi and Moses Kuria wanted an interpretation of the meaning of spoilt votes â€” whose high number was a source of controversy.
But in an ironic turn of events, the recording of the conversation indicates the official was willing to advise Cord on the best strategy to win the election petition. He says the many questions about the election, the new Constitution and â€œgiven that the outcome is not clear cutâ€ could persuade the Supreme Court to order a rerun of the top two candidates â€” Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.
â€œGo for it,â€ the man urges.
CREDIBILITY OF RESULTS
When questioned by the supposed Cord supporter on why the IEBC wanted to declare a winner yet there were doubts on the credibility of the results, the insider simply repeats that â€œmany things went wrongâ€.
Cordâ€™s petition was dismissed on March 30, paving the way for the swearing-in of Mr Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto. But the opposition felt aggrieved after its 900-page affidavit was thrown out on a technicality. IEBC and its chairman Issack Hassan, who were listed as defendants in the petition, also successfully cleared their names in court.
But according to the recorded conversation, there was an unsuccessful attempt to convince the supposed IEBC official to swear an affidavit to support Cordâ€™s case and repeat the claims he was making.
â€œThis information is so juicy, it would have been great if you could just swear for us an affidavit. That would be really nice,â€ the Cord supporter tells the IEBC man, spicing it with an offer of safe passage and relocation to another country.
After flatly refusing the offer to swear an affidavit, he advises there may be the possibility of summoning one of his senior colleagues to testify in court.
â€œBy the way the courts can compel someone to testify. You can argue that so and so is the one who knows about this matter,â€ he says.
He also says Cord should focus on specific issues during the petition: â€œJust reduce it to something manageable, donâ€™t raise too many issues.â€
The man goes on to reveal more damaging allegations against the commission that touch on some key points Cord lawyers raised at the Supreme Court. The official is recorded admitting IEBC quietly reduced the number of polling stations from the official 33,400 to â€œ32,000 and somethingâ€ without announcing it. He also questions the credibility of the register used at the polls.
â€œThe register we used is not the one we published, which is why in some cases you (Cord) have different numbers from what we have,â€ he claims. This raises the question of which register was used during vote counting and tallying.
On Saturday, IEBC Communications Manager Tabitha Mutemi told the Sunday Nation the commission could not comment on the matter without listening to the recording. Cord has in the past called for the disbandment of the elections body. But in an interview last month, the IEBC chairman insisted the process was free and fair.