By Samuel Ndalusia,
October 6th, 2017
Kenyans were surprised when in the evening of October 5; the IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati appeared to make submissions on the proposed amendments to election laws only to be turned away because fellow commissioners didn’t accompany him. The Jubilee parliamentarians who would love to be acknowledged as a Joint Select Committee representing the whole parliament even with no single member from the opposition coalition present in the bogus committee, insisted that the IEBC Chairman leave the city hall chambers and return later with at least few commissioners if not all of them. It was as if the Chairman wasn’t there on behalf of the commission but on his own behalf, which is actually ridiculous. It’s like the President of the Republic of Kenya being turned away from an AU Summit for not showing up with a few of his cabinet ministers or even worse, the speaker of the national assembly denied audience in a meeting for not coming with a few if not all members of the National Assembly.
The commission argued through one of its co-chair; Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo that, “It is important we hear views of the other commissioners because I know that the commission is run as a collegiate and not as an individual. We’re dealing with the institution in this case.” The parliamentarians insisted that they did send invitation to the Commission and not just its chairman; hence they wouldn’t listen to the IEBC Chairman in absence of his fellow commissioners and directed that he appear with the other commissioners at a specified time later that evening.
In his presentation to the MPs team, the IEBC chairman expressed concerns that the bill would disrupt the IEBC operations at a critical moment as they prepare for the repeat presidential election slated for October 26. Mr. Chebukati noted that the preparation for the election would be jeopardized by the foreign terminologies the new proposals were seeking to put in place. He made a clear opposition to the proposed changes which seek to give the vice chairperson powers to legally assume the role of the National Returning Officer if the chairman resigns or becomes incapacitated. The IEBC chair was also against the removal of the strict requirement that IEBC chairperson must be a lawyer who is qualified to hold the office of the Judge of the Supreme Court of Kenya. He asked the committee to delete the proposal saying that elections are managed through a complex web of legal procedures that required the head of the commission to be competent.
“The bill will affect the electoral process materially, considering IEBC has developed training materials, trained a considerable number of returning officers and reviewed and ordered the printing of training materials based on the existing law,” noted Mr. Chebukati. If the proposed amendments are adopted, the results of the October 26 repeat presidential elections will be determined through physically delivered results and not through electronically transmitted results as was the case in August 8 general elections.