After the split in IEBC, the truth can only come from an inquiry

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati and vice chair  Juliana Cherera consult during result tallying at the Bomas of Kenya on August 12, 2022. [David Gichuru, Standard]

The crowning happenings at the just-ended General Election fill you up with sadness. The nation was just beginning to brim with happiness and glow, when the mess hit the fan.

The world was praising us for an open and efficient election. Then the rotten stuff happened. The live TV footage was shocking. The world saw riotous politicians turn the national tallying centre for the presidential poll into a violent playhouse. People punched. They kicked. They tossed furniture about.

But they were not just ordinary politicians. Some were senior lawyers. Others, legislators. Their beef was that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairperson, Wafula Chebukati, was about to declare what they considered ‘opaque’ results.  

Shortly before this, they addressed the media. They disowned the tallying process. Two lawyers stood behind a chief agent, prompting him, as it is done in drama. 

Concurrent with this was another presser, at a city hotel. Four commissioners had broken ranks with the rest. They said exactly the same things as the violent dramatists at Bomas. This could mean what they were saying was true.

If not, then they were working together on some pre-planned sinister script, and scheme. The next day, the four addressed the media again. Once more, their event coincided with a parallel political function. Again, the script was the same. 

Only a judicial enquiry can bring out clarity. However, one thing is clear. Either someone has stolen the presidential election, or someone is hell bent on stealing the election. Are Chairperson Chebukati and his team lying that Dr William Ruto was elected Kenya’s fifth president? If they are not lying, are the four rebel commissioners lying to Kenya and the world? When conceding defeat, lawyer David Mwaure Waihiga said some people were trying to tamper with the results. He ‘call(ed) upon Chebukati to remain firm.’ What did he mean? 

The contest is not about mistakes. It is about deliberate, willful, lies. Someone is cheating the country. It is not for this column to say who. The courts are there.

But this column can do two things. First, it can wonder about some of the happenings.  Second, it can note that the saga stinks with criminal intent, perhaps even criminal activities. They possibly involve people whose names will only emerge later. Someone must go to jail.

Let us wonder a bit about four commissioners who read out election results on live national TV, for five days. They suddenly disown the results, ‘because the entire process is opaque.’ What were they reading out? Do they own what they read, or was it part of the ‘opaqueness’?  

They were disturbed because of ‘an additional 140,000-plus votes’, reflected in the percentages garnered by the four presidential candidates. It turned out that the figure was 1,400-plus. The chair has explained it as an immaterial factor of rounding off the percentages to the nearest decimal place. Where does this leave their wrath?

There are weightier concerns. What did these commissioners intend, when they ‘urge(d) Kenyans to reject the results’? Were they calling for physical public protests? Were they aware they could use the courts to help to nullify the election? Why did they not allow the chairperson to read the results, then go on to disown him before the Supreme Court, complete with evidence?

The four commissioners wondered how one candidate could get 25 per cent of the votes cast in 34 counties, and another one in 37 counties, ‘yet there are only 47 counties.’ We must hold our heads in our hands, in grief. Really? Elections are about numbers. If an IEBC commissioner does not understand the most basic concepts and workings of arithmetic (emphasize arithmetic, not mathematics), we must ask, how did this person get here?

Finally, one of the commissioners seems to have gone berserk with appalling posts in social media. What is this commissioner’s agenda? What of another commissioner who earlier addressed the media, hailing the tallying process and promising that the chairman would at the appropriate time give the final report? Only a post Supreme Court judicial commission of enquiry, complete with witnesses, will tell the truth.

Dr Muluka is a strategic communications advisor.