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Juliana Cherera: The career civil servant, teacher and now IEBC vice chair

NATIONAL
By Judah Ben-Hur and Benard Sanga | September 16th 2021

Juliana Whonge Cherera when she appeared before the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) for vetting.  [David Njaaga,Standard]

Juliana Whonge Cherera is the new Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) vice-chairperson following her unanimous election on Tuesday.

She replaces former vice chairperson Consolata Nkatha Maina, who resigned alongside commissioners Margaret Mwachanya, Paul Kurgat and Roselyn Akombe after the 2017 General Election.

Ms Cherera joins three other new IEBC commissioners, including Francis Wanderi, Irene Masit and Justus Nyang’aya.

She holds a Bachelor of Education degree, Masters in Education Leadership and Management and a Diploma in Project Management, among other credentials.

Cherera is a former chief officer at Mombasa County. She described herself as a “hands-on person” when she appeared before the IEBC selection panel led by Elizabeth Muli.

Cherara joined Hassan Joho’s administration as chief education officer in 2015 after teaching at Mvita Primary. She is credited for reintroduction of school milk programme that to date benefits more than 35,000 pupils daily.

Cherera, who has served in management roles in different levels of government, says the experience has taught her how to “bring everyone on board.” “At the executive, I have managed different units like the Attorney General’s office,” she said during interview in July.

Cherera’s ascent to one of the commission’s top positions comes with little doubt following dedication she portrayed before the selection panel.

She recounted events of the 2008 poll chaos that she said led to her “turning point.” “When I look at elections, I don’t just see myself as a voter going to choose a leader; I look at it from the side of management, administration, what went wrong and are we making Kenya a better place to stay,” said Cherera.

Cherera’s former employees describe her as a staunch Christian who also made sure that Joho never deviated from his agenda to end religious extremism in Mombasa. She often organised the governor’s round table meeting with clerics from all faiths. “The virtue that won her the IEBC seat is her calmness when everyone around her is panicking. She is very understanding,” said Mombasa County Director of Gender Ester Ingolo.

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