BBI POLITICS

IEBC opposes BBI recommendations to have political parties name chairman

In Summary

• The BBI task-force in its recommendations had said a mechanism should be devised to give MPs a role in the recruitment of commissioners of IEBC.

• But Chebukati in his response said political parties are loyalty-based institutions are unlikely to have non-partisan individuals in its membership.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati on April 20
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati on April 20
Image: JACK OWUOR

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has strongly opposed the recommendations by the BBI task force seeking to have political parties choose the commission's chairperson.

The commission in a statement said given the competitive nature and ethnic polarisation of the Kenyan election, allowing political parties to exclusively nominate the commission's chairperson and commissioners will severely compromise the independence of the commission contrary to the spirit of Article 249(2)(b) of the constitution.

The BBI task force in its recommendations had said a mechanism should be devised to give MPs a role in the recruitment of commissioners of IEBC.

In nominating candidates to be commissioners, the task-force said politicians should nominate individuals who are non-partisan with a record of accomplishment and integrity who are not known political supporters or activists of the party.

But Chebukati in his response said political parties are loyalty-based institutions and are unlikely to have non-partisan individuals in its membership.

"Members' action may be motivated by political interests contrary to Article 88 of the constitution of Kenya. Moreover, non-parliamentary parties and independent candidates will have no say in the recruitment process of the chairperson and commissioners thus denting the credibility of the commission," Chebukati said.

Chebukati in his sentiments argues that the current expert model in the appointment of the chairperson should be maintained as this will ensure the recruitment of professionals and not political appointees to manage the elections.

Chebukati further hit back at the task force, saying though they were invited to make their presentations, the task force ignored their input and is not captured anywhere in the report.

"It is worth noting that since the advent of multi-party democracy in 1992 there has been persistent disbandment of the electoral management body and its leadership occasioned by negative ethnicity leading to divisive and highly contested elections," he said.

This, Chebukati argues, has made the electoral body a convenient target for blame and disbandment leading to institutional stability and inadequate preparedness for subsequent general elections.

"The main root cause has never been adequately addressed, but instead symptomatic treatments such as disbandment of the commission and its leadership has been routinely undertaken which has not resulted in a lasting solution," read part of the recommendations.

Chebukati said despite making these recommendations to the task force, the same is not captured in the final report that was released.

Though the task force said divisive elections are the result with such enormous political pressure applied to IEBC that is certain to be judged a failure by one side or the other, Chebukati is of the view that instead of the task force making appropriate recommendations to address the identified challenges, the task force rather recommends an easier option of putting the blame on IEBC and calling for its disbandment, a practice that has become a tradition in the country after every election.

Chebukati said the perception of lack of faith in the commission is a narrative aimed at diverting attention from the perpetual divisive elections and antagonism.

"The independence, credibility and legitimacy of the commission get eroded by the continuous, sustained negative campaigns often on suspicions and unfounded grounds. IEBC requires support from all stakeholders towards the improvement of its legal and operational policies and procedures that will ensure accomplishment of its statutory mandate," he said.

He said the calls by the BBI task force to go to the 2022 election with a clean commission will greatly undermine human resource practices of capacity building and institutional memory.

"The recommendations are thus ill-advised and do not strengthen and enhance faith in the commission," Chebukati said.