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Row over IEBC bad for poll results

By Kipkoech Tanui | Published Fri, December 30th 2016 at 00:00, Updated December 29th 2016 at 20:18 GMT +3
IEBC CEO Ezra Chiluba (centre) shows a voter register at the Senate Legal Affairs Committee to discuss Election Amendment Bill 2017 at Parliament Buildings Nairobi. DAVID GICHURU/STANDARD

The story is told in newsrooms about how the rivalry between AFC and Gor Mahia football clubs was reflected in sports desks in terms of who was assigned to cover the encounter of the two teams and the way the stories were treated. Those familiar with the ethnic configuration of the two teams would tell you it was primarily a Luo and Luhya affair, just like athletics has been the preserve of Nilotes like Kalenjins and Maasai, except for a few odd balls here and there.

So there is this retired Luhya reporter who was AFC damu, the story goes, who was sent to cover a match between the two at City Stadium. Things went bad for his team and once back in the newsroom, he had a problem, a big one! Writing about the defeat of his team was akin to being asked to write one’s obituary minutes before being killed. After pacing around the newsroom thinking about how to render the story, a brainwave got into him and he rushed to his desk and punched away on his typewriter. The intro or first line of the story was: “AFC yesterday conceded two goals to the weaker side Gor Mahia with the aid of the wind and biased refereeing...”

Let us stop the story there and shift to IEBC and the coming election, less than eight months away but with acknowledgement that if AFC had won this writer would have elatedly wrote about refereeing and level playing field.

So on this note let us go to the biggest business of 2017; presidential and general elections in the second week of August. Let us herald this portion with a little story. Three friends are having pep-talk at Serena Hotel. One of them is an outgoing officer of the national electoral commission, so we are told. In the course of the chat the disenchanted electoral official tells his friends in a conspiratorial tone that in the event of digital technology only, Jubilee would lose badly.

After parting, one friend rushes to some big office to relay this as a matter of fact. What follows is a flurry of meetings as panic sets in over the fear that fire-walling the electoral process would complicate some sinister plan to embellish the votes using the advantages of incumbency. Soon the country would see a roguish and National Assembly pass an amendment allowing for manual voting process should technology fail. But tellingly, before that there was a Jubilee Parliamentary Group meeting at State House chaired by Deputy President William Ruto during which the MPs were told in no uncertain terms to remove all barriers to this new clause, even if by unorthodox means!

Well, the story as I have told it is doing the rounds alongside the one claiming that the Opposition led by Mr Raila Odinga have somehow found a way and means of rigging elections through some international NGO consortium! There are a host of other stories like how the budding National Super-Alliance (NASA) is going to unleash a secret candidate as their spacecraft to State House and seemingly they could be unbeatable because they may manage to tilt the mythical ‘tyranny of numbers’ away from the Kalenjin-Kikuyu vector.

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Then the thrust of the matter; struggle to pick the next team to lead IEBC. Unbeknown to many Kenyans, the Selection Panel, which was a truce mechanism to stop street protests against the exiting team led by Ahmed Isaak Hassan, was itself the first duel between Jubilee and Cord. The victims of the behind-the-scene flexing of muscles, despite the presence in the panel of supposedly trusted arbiters in the form of religious leaders, were those deemed to be either Jubilant or Corded. One in fact was knocked out with a petition citing that he attempted to rape a woman in his private office. Another was accused of pilfering public funds and plagiarising his master’s degree thesis. So the conspiracy theorists claim that the final list is also silently contested by the main parties, over the fact that the two names among which the President has to pick the chairman, and the nine from which he will pick six commissioners, is itself a product of political gerrymandering.

Which brings us to the speculation that since lawyer Tukero Ole Kina is seen as ‘big-headed’ and not pliable, and given that the second name, Wafula Chibukati, is a Bukusu from Trans Nzoia like the CEO of IEBC, Mr Ezra Chiloba, then the second name may take it but with a catch! Which is that a ‘carrot’ has to be dangled before Chiloba so that he ‘quits for greener pastures’, to pave way for his tribesman. Well, you don’t have to believe everything you hear but the story goes that the Jubilee reps in the panel were rapped on the head by the bigwigs for ‘failing to deliver’.

Well, as a result of all this cocktail of speculation, rumours and probably even facts, CORD is in court and has temporarily rescinded its January 4 streets protest order to supporters to allow the new window to reversing the contentious amendments opened by Senate a chance.

Meanwhile the country awaits the President’s final list of the new team at the helm of IEBC but even this will be contested because CORD is already saying it is Chibukati (which if it happens will end up in court if Chiloba will still be in office!) and that Jubilee has already reached out to him for a ‘chat’. But even if it is Ole Kina, one side somehow is unhappy with him.

So where does this leave us? You have already heard the line ‘there will be no election if this amendment is not defeated’. The other side has responded that CORD knows it is going to be defeated and is just looking for excuses!

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