IEBC truly hacked itself

When I penned off last week with the pensive words “What drives Kenyans into desperation is interference with tallying and transmission of results. Now that the results are out, I do hope Kenyans made the right choices and nobody has waylaid and diverted their wishes and will”, I hadn’t realised I had set the stage for history to be made.

A week later, a large population of voters is hurting. They can’t be healed by casual appeals to ‘move on’. They have many questions whose answers are buried in the labyrinth of IEBC self-propelled technology that unconvincingly projected and produced winners. Until that is done, we have a country of false silence – the kind of suspicious glances that burdens kin burying a loved one.

Let’s not lie to ourselves, we have a false calm shielding extreme bitterness underneath that could erupt abruptly like a volcano spewing lava on innocents. We may glorify the false quiet of normality, but we cannot conceal the reality that the country is in shutdown, both metaphorically and in physical reality. I avoid fiscal because that happened a long time ago. Nowhere in the land of Kenya in the electoral aftermath is business as usual. There is apprehension and uncertainty all over.

The Donald Trump Syndrome is here with us. It’s a daunting task for any president to own the crown and lose the country. The US President won a doubted election that still haunts him with allegations of Russian-assisted technology tampering. That’s the dilemma President Uhuru Kenyatta faces whichever day he swears to protect the Constitution. He’s in what is called a Prisoners’ Dilemma, where you are damned if you squeal on your accomplice and damned even if you don’t because he too can tell.

For the country to accept the outcome of this election, and so that the fatalism that bedevils Uhuru’s contested reelection doesn’t fester beyond his generation, the IEBC will need to quickly explain the yawning gaps in the transmission and tallying process. The IEBC may not by itself have tampered with the results, but it needs to cleanse itself of perceptions of internal collusion with system vendors. Remember perception is politics.

Vast cracks exist in innumerable contradictions the IEBC said KIEMS will do but didn’t do but which the commission tried unsuccessfully to explain away. In the simulation exercise before the election, it was made clear KIEMS will not transmit text without corresponding screened images of either 34A or 34B. What then do you make of text that was pasted on the IEBC website without conforming picture images? Worst, when forced to upload images of the forms, the text wasn’t compatible.

Put on the defensive, the IEBC admitted unsuccessful “attempted hacking”. But a whole week later, the IEBC website is still scrolling numbers from unnamed polling stations, unsupported by scanned images of the mandatory forms. The nearest we came to truth was when the loudmouth at my local put it that “the computer was still voting” because it hadn’t realised the exercise was over. More correctly, whoever had programmed the computer hadn’t factored in how to stop it short of crashing the KIEMS.

Another thing; the law really became an ass to the IEBC. The courts ruled that presidential results generated at the polling station and simultaneously transmitted to the constituency and national tallying centres were final. However, the IEBC instead broadcast illegitimate bulk county totals when the law demands it broadcasts constituency tallies in Form 34B. As a result, an election has been called in without supporting Form 34A texted from about 11,000 polling stations.

Form 34B – for the un-updated Kenyan – contains the tallied total votes of what each presidential candidate scored in all the polling stations (in Form 34A) in a constituency. Form 34B tells you the total number of registered voters, votes cast, spoiled ballots; IEBC officials and agents’ names, signatures and ID numbers. What then we expected to see on our TV was a split screen showing on one side the constituency tally in Form 34B and the text figures.

The IEBC could even afford the luxury of a threefold split screen with the last column with totals continually running. Truth is no single Kenyan saw what this braggart at my local calls “competition of numbers” in real-time, reflecting addition. This fact alone lends credence to claims that the bulk county numbers on the IEBC website weren’t generated from the IEBC server but from an interception.

Whoever this interceptor was may only be known after a forensic audit of the KIEMS to know how and when the system was made to default transmission and where replacement data was generated from.

This is more so given superstition of 0.11 point constant in vote difference between winners and losers at a pervasive and systemic 54 per cent. The rest as they say will be history.

Communications, Publications and Conflict Management Specialist, University of Nairobi

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