IEBC leadership puzzle; why the Commission is in limbo


IEBC leadership puzzle; why the Commission is in limbo
FILE PHOTO: IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati

In Summary

  • Chebukati has repeatedly argued that the electoral body was constitutionally constituted, citing article 250 of the country’s supreme law on composition of commissions.
  • But legal pundits have pointed him to the IEBC Act that requires the commission to have a chairperson and six other members.

The standoff pitting IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati and sacked Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba underscores the leadership crises that have perennially rocked the electoral body.

Chebukati has for months been walking a tight rope, with two commissioners; Boya Molu and Abdi Yakub by his side.

For a commission that began the journey in January last year with seven members, only three members of that team remain on board, after Connie Nkatha, Margaret Mwachanya and Paul Kurgat quit in April, six months after Dr. Roseline Akombe walked away.

Chebukati has repeatedly argued that the electoral body was constitutionally constituted, citing Article 250 of the country’s supreme law on composition of commissions.

But legal pundits have pointed him to the IEBC Act that requires the commission to have a chairperson and six other members.

The second schedule of the Act sets out the quorum for conduct of commission business, that must be at least half of the existing commissioners, but they must not be less than three.

When Chebukati appeared before the Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) in the National Assembly, he pleaded for speedy recruitment of new commissioners, to fill the four slots left vacant by Nkatha, Mwachanya, Kurgat and Akombe. His fears then were on lack of quorum in the commission.

But a month later he changed tune, when he appeared before the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, citing counsel received from the commission’s legal team, arguing that the electoral commission was constituted correctly.

However, Olago Aluoch, a member of the committee faulted the legal interpretation adopted by Chebukati and his two commissioners on the quorum issue.

But the leadership crisis at Anniversary Towers deepens by the day. The four commissioners who resigned are yet to be replaced.

High Court judge Wilfrida Okwany ruled that Nkatha, Mwachanya and Kurgat had not followed the laid down procedures while tendering their resignation.

There is also a legal lacuna, since the law required in setting up a selection panel for recruitment of new commissioners lapsed and parliament has not passed a new one.

Among the pending assignments for the commission is the often highly emotive and political boundaries review, recruitment of a new CEO to replace Chiloba and continuous voter registration.

There is also the question of a referendum should the ongoing clamour for amendments to the constitution yield fruit.

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Story By Francis Gachuri
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