The IEBC Rules simply cannot apply to Media covering the elections
Media representatives who missed the deadline to apply for accreditation by the electoral commission to cover this year’s polls still have a chance to get their cards. And although IEBC states otherwise, they may try to do it even without valid Media Council of Kenya accreditation, because in the light of the laws and regulation it is uncertain if the Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) can uphold its stance, a RoGGKenya investigation has established.
IEBC communications officer Andrew Limo told RoggKenya that those who missed the application deadline of 19th July can apply online, but will have to print their own cards after IEBC sends them a link via email for this purpose.
“We closed the date for applications on 19th July. This was to allow us to know the number of applicants for planning for printing of accreditation badges. Those who missed the date may still apply, but there is no guarantee we will have badges for them,” said Mr Limo. The deadline of July 19 had not been communicated on the accreditation page before, Limo admitted.
The stance of the IEBC, that those applying must provide proof of accreditation to the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) greatly worries some media representatives.
Media are hiring non-MCK-accredited Staff
For a small station which is nevertheless covering nine counties with around sixty constituencies the task that lies ahead can only be tackled with the help of a few dozen interns and media students hired for the election and tallying days. Also, large media groups based in Nairobi are known to have invited chunks of extra personnel for job interviews for tasks related to the elections. In addition, there are technical staff and camera operators who have to be able to access tallying centers and polling stations to exercise their right of covering the elections. The MCK requirements for accreditation would make it impossible for all these people to qualify as media observers before the elections. But to the luck of the above-mentioned radio station, not all regional offices are following the rules that IEBC in Nairobi emphasizes.
Some Regional IEBC Offices take it easy
One regional IEBC office just required a letter from the manager of a radio station with a listing of the names of temporary staff requesting their registration. These staff are promised to receive accreditation badges in time – and will carry them along with badges issued by the station. The managing editor of a Kisumu radio station, however, is still seeking to accredit additional personal for the elections day so that the station can be present with media observers at as many tallying centers and polling stations as possible in the four counties the station is covering. The manager was told by the county office that MCK accreditation was mandatory, which left him quite desperate.
Condition not found in Laws
IEBC communications manager Andrew Limo said it was the law to require MCK accreditation as a prerequisite for the Elections Accreditation. But this could not be verified by looking at laws and regulations. The General Regulation No.62 (1) (g) grants admission to the polling stations to “observers and representatives of the print and electronic media accredited by the Commission” and is not mentioning journalists at all, thereby not excluding beginners in the media profession or camera operators.
“Phased out Forms”
Media houses have provided IEBC with lists of their personal and freelancers who will report from the various polling stations and tallying centers on August 8. They did not have to provide MCK details when they used the form that RoGGKenya has retrieved from the IEBC website: accreditation-form-by-stations media
But Mr. Limo now says these forms were “phased out” in favour of the online application process, further adding to the confusion.
Late-Comers print Badges themselves.
He admitted that the deadline of July 19 was not communicated early enough due to a lack of oversight but insisted that there was still time for journalists to apply although they would have to print their own IEBC accreditation badges. Each badge will have a barcode, another detail that was not communicated early enough to the media raising even more questions about the IEBC’s handling of the process.
To complete the online applications, the journalists are expected to upload their photos and other necessary documents, including a copy of the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) registration. Details on how to apply are found on the link https://accreditation.iebc.or.ke/oms/
“We have had to plan and source them (accreditation badges). It needs certainty. But (as an option) late applicants can print the cards themselves. We approve (the applications) online and it has a bar code. We have 2,900 applicants and they are now uploading their photos, MCK references etc,” Mr Limo said. The accreditation portal does not allow completion of the application without a MCK accreditation. Limo added that the IEBC accreditation badges for the 2,900 applicants who beat the July 19 deadline would be printed and delivered on time by IEBC, but the accreditation process will still end on July 31.
Rural Journalists don’t need Internet
The situation is precarious for journalists in far-flung/remote counties with no access to the Internet whose only option, according to Mr Limo, is to go to the nearest IEBC field office in their counties and fill a form with their names and email contacts and provide other identifying documents including their passport-size photos.
He told RoGGKenya that the IEBC officials will input the information into their system for processing of the accreditation cards. But Mr Limo insisted that Commission had not received any such requests from areas outside Nairobi
“We have not received requests from rural areas for an offline registration. We have hard copy forms and they can fill and return to our field officers. We are here to facilitate,” said Limo.
Even Bloggers can report – but “with MCK number”
“We process individuals including photo-journalists and bloggers. The registration is at two levels. There is a plus sign to the right of the dropdown menu which you can use to register a category and even a Twitter handle can be used to register an individual or entity,” he told RoggKenya. But he maintained that they also must be accredited to the MCK and must upload their MCK numbers for their applications to progress.
(Meanwhile however, Limo seems to be softening his stance. He sent a message through WhatsApp that a technical team need only their press card to access Bomas of Kenya, the national tallying centre.) Correction on July 24, 9:30 p.m.: With this, Limo was referring to the access to a press briefing only, not to election reporting at The Bomas in general.