Politics

BBI report wants IEBC team sent packing

BBI report wants IEBC team sent packing
  • Handshake team says they do not enjoy the confidence of the public.

  • As things stand, a negotiated approach looks like the most feasible way to get Team Chebukati out.

  • If that happens, a new team of will undertake the electoral boundary review, which, at the earliest, should start in 2020.

The running of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has again been brought into focus after the “handshake” taskforce recommended the removal of its current three commissioners.

In the report handed to President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga yesterday, the Building Bridges for National Unity Advisory Taskforce opines that the overhaul is necessary since the current team does not enjoy public confidence.

STREET PROTESTS

In the March 9, 2018, joint statement by President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, the two leaders pledged to end the culture of divisive elections by, among others, reforming the IEBC.

“We must seek to shift our terms of engagement as leaders, as individuals and as citizens, if we are to have competitive and constructive elections. That should be our first priority,” they said.

It will not be the first time an electoral agency team is asked to leave office. After the most divisive elections in the country’s history in 2007, then commissioners of the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) were sent packing.

Their successors, the team led by Issack Hassan, negotiated their exit after sustained street protests by Cord Alliance supporters.

For more than a year, the current commission has been operating with the bare minimum number of commissioners after their colleagues Connie Maina, Margaret Mwachanya, Paul Kurgat and Roselyn Akombe resigned. The three commissioners currently in office are Chairman Wafula Chebukati, Prof Abdi Guliye and Mr Boya Molu.

SERIOUS VIOLATION

But removing the commissioners is not a walk in the park since they enjoy security of tenure. There are three ways to go about it, namely getting a tribunal to investigate their conduct, piling pressure on them until they resign, or persuading them to resign voluntarily with all their benefits.

The Constitution provides that a member of a commission can be removed from office only for a serious violation of the Constitution, gross misconduct, physical or mental incapacity to perform functions of office, incompetence or bankruptcy.

As things stand, a negotiated approach looks like the most feasible way to get Team Chebukati out.

If that happens, a new team of will undertake the electoral boundary review, which, at the earliest, should start in 2020.

The new team will also conduct the 2022 General Election.

TROUBLED PAST

The current commissioners have been in office for just about three of their six-year term, having taken office on January 20, 2017. Removing them now would mean that the taxpayer would have to pay them for the three years of their incomplete term, as well as 31 per cent of their gratuity as provided for by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).

Parliament is currently seized of various pieces of proposed legislation all seeking ways to fill vacancies at the commission following the resignations by the four commissioners.

The suggestion by the Building Bridges Initiative taskforce that the current IEBC commissioners be removed is nothing new.

After the most divisive elections in 2007, then commissioners of the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya, were forced out of office.

Their successors, the IEBC team led by Issack Hassan negotiated their exit after sustained street protests by the Cord Alliance.

BARE MINIMUM

The current team has been operating with the bare minimum number of commissioners a year after their colleagues Connie Maina, Margaret Mwachanya, Paul Kurgat and Roselyn Akombe resigned, leaving only Chairman Wafula Chebukati with Prof Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu to run the electoral body.