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Opinion: Is Chebukati memo to Chiloba an open letter to Supreme Court judges?

By Daisy Maritim Maina | Published Sun, September 10th 2017 at 00:00, Updated September 9th 2017 at 16:57 GMT +3
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati Photo:Courtesy

Two Fridays ago, the world was treated to a historic ruling that nullified a presidential election on the basis of procedural technicalities. I must say, this decision was either inspired by a stroke of genius or absolute foolhardiness. On this, only time will tell.

I say so because there is a chance that the four judges of the majority opinion were led by a divine spirit.

Maybe they are like the Philosopher King in Plato's Republic who pay attention to the seasons, the heavens, the stars, the winds and everything else on earth.

Perhaps the four gleaned a general political discontent in the country and concluded that it is better to turn the tables and create a positive disruption.

But today, I prefer the lens of a pessimist.

I am more inclined to believe that the judges are not like the Philosopher King, that they acted impulsively and made a political decision in which they first resolved to enter a verdict and then work backwards to justify their decision.

The Supreme Court judges have twelve more days to issue their full judgments. Perhaps it is dawning on them now that they better have compelling reasons to justify nullifying the election. Is it possible that they are at pains to craft compelling judgments? I think so.

Enter the Chebukati 'Memo to Chiloba.' It does not make sense. There are a few things that don't add up.


Top amongst them is the timing, and the 'dirty laundry element' of its leaking. Indeed, all is not well within Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), and that is not a surprise given the critical ruling of the Supreme Court.

It is routine procedure to reshuffle a team after such a performance; even a football coach whose team performs dismally will effect changes ahead of the next season. And so whereas the re-shuffling of personnel internally was expected, the issuance and public disclosure of such a memo raises eyebrows.

This election continues to be a 'Smokes and Mirrors' one, where nothing is as it seems.

The normal rules of elections no longer apply; including the fact that the winner must 'garner more votes than their opponent in order to win.' That is no longer the case. What counts, this time round, seems to be how deviously one can scheme outside of the ballot box.

Therefore, we must look at Chebukati's actions, and the unfolding IEBC saga with a very skeptical eye. We must ask whether it was a ploy, why it was leaked and who its real recipient is.

To begin with, this memo to Chiloba distances Chebukati from all claims of negligence and impropriety that took place in the August 8th election. Chebukati paints himself as the 'knower of nothing'. A 'hands-free' Chairman who has nothing to do with where the buck stops.

When someone acts sub-optimally, they are nested in multiple games. I read Chebukati's issuing of the memo as sub-optimal behaviour.

He is therefore involved in many games. Although the end game is invisible to us now, we can speculate. Possible game number one may involve Chebukati executing someone else's scheme.

Possible game number two is that the Chebukati memo is not really looking for answers from Chiloba.

Chebukati is like an old man in his compound reprimanding and shouting at his family hoping that the neighbours will eavesdrop.

His message is intended for another audience. The memo serves two purposes: first, to direct the judges on what to write in their judgments. The judges will probably address themselves to different paragraphs of the memo.

The second is to create a background of acceptance in the mind of the public; affirming that there were irregularities affecting the poll outcome so that once the judgments are issued, they are easily received.

So fellow Kenyans, do not be surprised if in twelve days, the Supreme Court judgments that we will hear will sound like a play by play version of Chebukati's hit release 'Memo to Chiloba'.

—The writer is a PhD candidate in Political Economy at SMC University and a Research Fellow at Fort Hall School of Government. [email protected]


The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

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