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September 23, 2018

To Iebc: don't mess with the people

To IEBC: Don’t mess with the people
To IEBC: Don’t mess with the people

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s 40 days of deceit are over. The season of the illusion of indispensability has ended. Welcome to the age of checks and balances.

Independence, the IEBC knows, is not a licence for impunity. Citizen Okiya Omtatah, the resilient activist, is in court to restrain the maligned agency, which panders to the whims of the Executive rather than listen to the voice of the citizenry.

The agency should no longer expect to be shielded by the Legislature and Executive. It should not expect protection from responsibility from a skewed Parliament. A Parliament that celebrates the tyranny of numbers rather than the rule of reason.

The IEBC should expect no more protection from security agencies. It knows it shall be called to account when the shrapnel hits the skin. It’s time to style up.

Delivering a free and fair election is not a pledge of the IEBC’s magnanimity. It is a constitutional, and irreducible, minimum.

Delivering credible results is a national duty for which taxpayers have sacrificed. Taxpayers are still willing to invest billions of shillings in this process. The IEBC should not ration democracy; it has a duty to deliver in full measure.

Former IEBC commissioners deferred their exit, after they were evicted amid mass protests, tears and blood. The protests, the loss of time, lives, and property were not in vain. The aim was always clear to right-thinking citizens: We want a commission that can deliver credible elections.

The term of the Issack Hassan-led team ended on October 5, 2016, but the insular leadership held on, even as conscientious citizens cried foul. The commissioners refused to leave, as the opposition, civil society, and faith organisations denounced their impudence and questioned their conscience and patriotism.

The fired commissioners were waiting for their severance pay to be calculated, but claimed they wanted to hand over office to their successors. The discredited commissioners had an excuse, but righting-thinking citizens knew the reason for their sit-in.

The fired commissioners were engaged in clandestine, if not fraudulent, duties, which are now the subject of legal scrutiny. They awarded skewed tenders for the audit of the voter’s register. They had corrupted the register to manipulate the 2013 general election. They wanted to transition the fraud to the August 8 general election.

The commissioners scoured for suppliers of ballot papers. They supervised ward by-elections, hired staff, made ICT regulations, plotted amendments to the National Assembly and Elections Act and prepared a timetable for mass voter registration. They were supervising manipulation of the voter’s register. They were beholden to the status quo.

The ejected commissioners ‘worked’ for three months after their resignation to demonstrate raw impunity. They felt Parliament and the Executive cushioned them against accountability.

Six months to the elections, their decisions are being challenged. A High Court judge annulled the Sh2.5 billion ballot paper tender awarded to a Dubai-based company. Earlier, a court suspended the tender to KPMG to audit the voter’s register, for breach of procurement regulations.

Twice last week, the High Court extended the period for mass voter registration, to accommodate those who would otherwise have been disenfranchised. These are accountability messages.

Chief executive Ezra Chiloba worked with the Hassan commission. He is also on duty under the new team chaired by Wafula Chebukati. Chiloba should know Chebukati is the boss. Hassan is at large, watching the exposure of his mess. Chiloba must have heard his predecessor James Oswago crying like a baby when EACC officers arrested him last week.

Chiloba and Chebukati should expect no lesser penalty if they bungle the general election. The citizens are saying, do not mess with the people.

We, the people, now say cleaning the register is the next line of engagement to bury electoral deceit. Kenya is ripe for democracy.

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