Mass sackings loom as Chebukati cleans IEBC

Tension has gripped the electoral commission following a major purge of officers accused of bungling the procurement of election materials in 2017.

There are fears of mass sackings, with more than half of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s staff based at the headquarters being subjected to disciplinary action.

The team led by Wafula Chebukati (pictured) commenced a disciplinary process against 58 staff for their various roles in the tender award for supply of materials such as ballot papers and technology.

The move, according to IEBC, is as a result of last year’s internal audit report that criticised the directorates of finance, ICT, supply chain management and legal and public affairs whose officials the auditors recommended explain some of the decisions they made leading to possible loss of money.

The report, which was released on August 20, reviewed 31 contracts the commission entered into during the 2017 elections that cost Sh6.2 billion, with the electoral agency chairman then promising action.

Consequently staffs were given show cause letters from early this year even as claims emerge that those targeted are linked to former Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba who was fired.

Chebukati had appointed a four-member Disciplinary Committee composed of fellow commissioners Abdi Guliye, Boya Molu, acting CEO Marjan Hussein and acting Human Resource Director Mohamed Hassan.

The committee began holding its deliberations on Monday last week with those given show cause letters appearing in person to explain their roles.

“They gave us letters in January and this week they were grilling us. It’s like they are preparing ground to sack many people. The morale at the commission is very low,” a staff who has undergone the grilling told The Standard.

Those affected have expressed concern on the legitimacy of the exercise claiming it violates the commission's human resource manual, with the committee failing to meet the threshold of gender balance.

For instance, they point out that two commissioners who are sitting in the committee will also sit in the plenary to approve their own report. Again under UHR manual, commissioners cannot handle disciplinary cases of junior officers below the rank of directors.

“Interestingly, both Marjan and Hassan chaired evaluation committees whose members are appearing before the disciplinary committee. This is like being the accuser, prosecutor, judge and executioner,” another officer said.

Last Thursday there was a stand off during one of the sessions when a senior manager told off the committee, saying it was not legally constituted and competent to handle any case.

He said the exercise was flawed from the beginning and said that Marjan and Hassan should face the commissioners to explain themselves.

Yesterday, Chebukati said: “The internal disciplinary process is ongoing within the confines of the commission’s HR policy and relevant laws governing employment. This is expected to be concluded in two weeks."