KIBRA BY-ELECTION

Yet another reason to revamp IEBC

Split electoral commission can't make a unanimous decision on a simple dispute.

In Summary

• Unless right-thinking citizens initiate a process of ejecting Chebukati, it looks like the state officer may survive to preside over another blunder.

• The man's gods of survival are still active, watching over the buck-stopper of recent electoral shenanigans.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Kibra returning officer Beatrice Muli's courage, even with the new twist, is a reminder that chairman Wafula Chebukati is still in office.

The split electoral commission cannot make a unanimous decision on the go, on such a simple dispute. But the electoral agency chairman is still holding out in spite of massive blunders in the 2017 presidential elections.

Unless right-thinking citizens initiate a process of ejecting Chebukati, it looks like the state officer may survive to preside over another blunder. The man's gods of survival are still active, watching over the buck-stopper of recent electoral shenanigans.

Time is running out for the reconfiguration of the IEBC. The dilemma ensures the IEBC continues to limp and live on borrowed time. The IEBC survives without four commissioners.

Commissioner Roselyn Akombe resigned after the August 8, 2017, presidential election. This was weeks before the October 26, 2017, fresh presidential election, which the Supreme Court ordered. The court found the first election replete with illegalities and irregularities.

Akombe understood the mess and partisan stranglehold on what should be an independent electoral commission. But even her exit did not create any urgency to recast IEBC.

Other commissioners resigned in April last year. Paul Kurgat, Margaret Mwachanya and Consolata Maina said they had lost faith in Chebukati. They had hoped their exit would trigger the dissolution of the IEBC.

The commission survived their exit.

Chebukati still sees and hears no evil. He did not see any in the shambolic 2017 presidential elections. The disparaging remarks by the Supreme Court did not wake him up to the need for free, fair, and verifiable elections.

When the quitters returned to work, four months after their desertion, they found it was not possible to recant their resignation. The surviving commissioners—Chebukati, Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu—don't see the urgency of reconfiguring the IEBC.

Former IEBC chief executive officer Ezra Chiloba is 18 months out of office, alongside other senior officials. The IEBC is running on autopilot. And it looks like insiders want the IEBC to wobble to the 2022 general election. Then, it would be too late in the electoral calendar to restaff the IEBC. Continuity shall be cited to justify business-as-usual.

     The survivors of the 2017 electoral backlash are enjoying their overstay at the commission. But Beatrice Muli's defiance of irregular orders, which were reinstated on Monday, should worry them. Muli defied the order of the commissioners, knowing she would be held responsible for any breach of electoral laws.

For this act of courage, largely lacking in a country where orders from above are law, Muli deserves credit, even with the new turn.   

Muli invalidated Jubilee factional nomination of football star McDonald Mariga because his claim, and that of his handlers, that he is validly registered, could not be verified. Mariga appealed the foul and got into play. But legal minds still question the eligibility of the player.

The stalemate went before the IEBC Dispute Resolutions Board, whose chairman is Chebukati, who wanted Mariga in, in spite of advice from legal and ICT staff. The board sat on Monday and got Mariga in.

Chebukati still sees and hears no evil. He did not see any in the shambolic 2017 presidential elections. The disparaging remarks by the Supreme Court did not wake him up to the need for free, fair, and verifiable elections.

And we, the people, are quick to forget and forgive. This is the reminder Muli is sending through the confusion over the MacDonald Mariga candidacy in the November 7 Kibra parliamentary by-election.