The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) continues to attract negative publicity. This follows unconfirmed reports that embattled Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba had finally been shown the door. The report, however, was later discounted by IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati.
Nevertheless, Chebukati’s denial does not detract the fact that IEBC is a deeply disjointed house in dire need of mending. Trouble at IEBC began following the resignation of Commissioner Roselyn Akombe in October 2017, citing "irreconcilable differences" among commissioners that had inhibited work at the commission. This view appeared to be vindicated by Mr Chebukati’s fear shortly before the October 26 repeat presidential election that the organisation he leads, could not possibly conduct free and fair elections.
Matters were not made any better when Mr Chiloba was suspended in April pending investigations into alleged misuse of funds through suspect procurement deals. Mr Chiloba has disputed the claims and even went to court to challenge his suspension. Needless to say, Mr Chiloba’s suspension deepened rifts within the electoral body since some of the commissioners opposed, and distanced themselves from the decision.
Shortly after, Vice Chairperson Connie Nkatha, commissioners Paul Kurgat and Margaret Wanjala announcing their resignations in a huff. Apart from their claim they had lost confidence in the leadership of Mr Chebukati, it was not clear what their action would achieve. Perhaps they thought their resignation would paralyse the commission. And that since there were several by-elections pending, it was doubtful the remaining three commissioners would be deemed legally empowered to conduct them.
The commission, though weakened, is still in place. Perhaps realising they had miscalculated, the three commissioners who had sensationally resigned attempted a quiet come-back, but Mr Chebukati thwarted their plans, but all is not over yet.
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No doubt, the country has wearied of their drama. Secondly; the country cannot move on without a properly constituted and working IEBC. What would happen were the circumstances in the country to demand a snap General Election? Lined up already before the next elections due in four years is a boundaries review which with a handicapped IEBC could prove tricky and contestable. And of course preparing for that election is no easy task. All that requires a well-oiled machine.
And so it is tempting to beseech the two main protagonists- Mr Chebukati and Mr Chiloba- that for good of the commission and the country, they ought to set set aside their personal differences and allow the commission to discharge its mandate.
But then it would seem that to a larger extent, the trouble with IEBC revolves around personalities and ego.
And that is why we are calling on the country's political leadership to consider intervening - as it has done before- before it is too late.