Opinion

The courts spoke, twice, Chebukati must go

The courts spoke, twice, Chebukati must go

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Free, fair and credible. The three key words that always bug any electoral agency in a democratic country, usually with high expectations from such bodies.

In Kenya, the pressure is enormous, bearing in mind the country’s past and the reforms in the electoral process over time. Pertinent issues that have touched on these reforms revolve around attaining financial autonomy, averting politically instigated pressure, policy and legislation.

The reforms touching on personnel have, however, elicited questions on the credibility of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). Its chairman, Wafula Chebukati, takes the centre stage at this point in time. After the recent Court of Appeal ruling that declared IEBC not legally constituted to conduct its mandate, the poll agency hardly inspires confidence in Kenyans that it can deliver on the three-word mantra of a free, fair and credible election.

What, I wonder, is Chebukati doing in office yet the courts have spoken — twice — on the matter? As we head to a very competitive electioneering period in a few months, Chebukati should stepped aside to pave the way for a properly constituted IEBC.

Apart from the aforementioned reforms, which were laid as conditions of success for IEBC, maintaining a competent commission and secretariat on a long-term basis and ensuring security of tenure for office holders come into play and exposes the agency’s incapacity at the moment, seeing that it has been managed. Ironically, it is the chairman who pointed out these issues in an open letter to the people, “Enhancing electoral democracy in Kenya’. One wonders why he didn’t quit after the 2017 elections or after the dust settled because of the “Handshake”.

Various stakeholders — including leaders, political parties and the general citizenry — have queried the credibility of IEBC.

There is a growing perception that it has been incompetent under Chebukati, especially as regards strategic leadership. That is compounded by suspicion on management of elections, especially after the resignation of commissioners who had expressed doubts about Chebukati’s leadership back in 2017.

Following the resignations and subsequent suspension of the CEO, Chebukati, alongside Boya Molu and Abdi Guliye, have been running IEBC on their own for three years. Worse, a commissioner quit before the 2017 polls. How would three commissioners take up the roles of seven and a CEO and purport to work efficiently and with credibility?

Being a lawyer, Chebukati well understands the country’s jurisprudence. Sadly, his keen knowledge of the law has not stopped him from relinquishing his duties as chairman, which actually raises more questions tyan answers on his character as a leader. He lacks the moral authority to oversee another election.

Selina Chiteri, Nairobi