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ELECTION JUSTICE

Remove Chebukati and restructure IEBC now

It will clearly be wrong for us to go to the election with a system that is not fully fine-tuned

In Summary

• We need to strengthen the IEBC, and analytically look at the problems faced, and see what we can learn from the mistakes made. What we witnessed from the commission recently is something that cannot be acceptable.

• The IEBC cannot give us a report on the last election; three years later, and still have errors even on names of elected leaders. This level of incompetence is what nearly messed up the country in 2017.


Chairman of IEBC Wafula Chebukati refuted claims by the senate Justice and Legal affairs Committee that they snubbed the meeting in Parliament saying that the chairman called off the meeting. April 20, 2018
Chairman of IEBC Wafula Chebukati refuted claims by the senate Justice and Legal affairs Committee that they snubbed the meeting in Parliament saying that the chairman called off the meeting. April 20, 2018
Image: JACK OWUOR

Once upon a time, a wagoner was driving along a muddy road when the wheels sank down deep into the mud.

The driver stood looking at the wagon, and did nothing but utter loud cries to Hercules to come and help him.

Hercules, it is said, appeared and thus addressed him: “Put your shoulders to the wheels, my man. Never more pray to me for help, until you have done your best to help yourself.”

During the 2017 elections, the country was at a point of extreme stress when rumour went round that IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati was to resign.

Just before that, we had witnessed the resignation of commissioner Roselyn Akombe and just as we thought that the dust had settled, three other commissioners resigned in one year.

If this had all happened during elections, a constitutional conundrum, chaos and uncertainty would have prevailed, especially if the chairman resigned during that very stressful period.

We need to strengthen the IEBC, and analytically look at the problems faced, and see what we can learn from the mistakes made. What we witnessed from the commission recently is something that cannot be acceptable.

The IEBC cannot give us a report on the last election; three years later, and still have errors even on names of elected leaders. This level of incompetence is what nearly messed up the country in 2017.

In 2017, Kenyans went to the ballot twice for the presidential elections mainly due to the weaknesses of the IEBC. The Supreme Court told us that the electoral agency failed to arrest illegalities and irregularities in the first round of voting.

It thus does not give Kenyans confidence that the IEBC is publishing reports on the last elections that have errors. This is unacceptable and it is time something gives for us to regain confidence in the institution.

It is time that Parliament’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee takes a good look at the commission with the aim of reforming it. Parliament needs to send the entire team home, and restructure with a new credible team that will competently manage the upcoming referendum and 2022 elections.

Instead of the IEBC telling Kenyans how it is preparing for the next election, all we have been treated to is infighting. Those fights led to the ouster of CEO Ezra Chiloba more than 14 months ago and the institution has someone acting until today.

The IEBC needs a competent Secretariat that can prepare a credible election and this will not happen with the current commissioners in office. The commission has not even been able to kick off the boundary review process and now says it can only be completed after 2022.

The IEBC is a critical institution that must be supported under all costs but it must also respect the rule of law in its internal operations. If those placed in charge of these operations are not ready to work in the interest of the country, they should humbly exit and allow those capable to do the work.

The electoral agency is too important to be left to a few individuals to continue going at each other as we have witnessed. We must challenge ourselves the same way Hercules challenged Wagoner to deal with this matter once and for all.

Parliament must also clearly come up with a legal framework that will ensure the country does not fall into a crisis. At the nullification of the last presidential poll, we saw that there was no clear demonstration of evidence that the election was flawed.

In other words, the last presidential poll was nullified not because the players had done anything wrong but because the IEBC failed in its systems.

It is also important that MPs also come up with a system of protecting the IEBC officials from the unwarranted attacks and intimidation from those who lose in elections.

It will clearly be wrong for us to go to the election with a system that is not fully fine-tuned and give losers an excuse to follow the same precedence as has been set currently.

The writer is a political and communications consultant @MachelWaikenda