Politicians, academicians to battle it out for 4 IEBC slots

Wednesday, May 26th, 2021 00:00 |
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati at a past press conference. PD/FILE

Former politicians, academicians, State officers and journalists are among hundreds of individuals set to battle it out for the four vacant slots at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Among the considerations likely to influence the panel in filling the positions will be ethnic and regional balance, gender and diversity. The women applicants stand a better chance since the current three commissioners are all male.

Among the applicants are 464 males while women are 205, but this is unlikely to change the fact that the female gender is under-represented on IEBC.

The chairperson of the selection panel, Elizabeth Muli, said after publishing the names of all the applicants, the team will start the short-listing exercise and thereafter publish the names of successful candidates.

Notable names

“The selection panel shall invite the views of the public on the suitability of the shortlisted candidates to serve in the position of member of the IEBC,” Muli said.

Some of the notable names who have applied for the jobs include former Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) vice-chairperson Irene Keino, former Gem MP Joe Donde, former Nyamira Senator Okong’o Mong’are, former Gwasi MP Felix Nyauchi, former Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) chair Florence Jaoko, former ICT director at the IEBC Dismas Ong’ondi,  current IEBC official Tabitha Mutemi, former diplomat Koki Muli and former National Land Commission vice-chairperson Abigael Mbagaya.

Others are former Vetting Control Board member Justus Munyithya, lawyer Alice Yano, NGO veteran Justus Nyang’aya, former KNCHR chairperson Kagwiria Mbogori, former Transitional Authority chair Kinuthia wa Mwangi, former chief executive of the defunct Cord Coalition Norman Magaya, former NCIC member Milly Lwanga, former National Police Service Commission member Murshid Abdalla and former Vetting Control Board member Roseline Odede. Journalists Kennedy Onyonyi and Mwakera Mwajefa have also applied for the lucrative positions.

In the spirit of fair regional distribution of slots, applicants from North Eastern, Lower Eastern and Western regions stand slim chances of selection since the current IEBC commissioners, Wafula Chebukati, Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu, hail from these regions. 

Traditionally, former politicians would appear favourites in such selections due to various interests but the provision in the IEBC Act that one must not have vied for political office in the last five years will affect them.

Former KNCHR boss Jaoko was instrumental in the compilation of the Waki Report which indicted prominent Kenyans over the 2007-2008 post election violence.

Former IEBC official Ong’ondi is remembered for his admission before a parliamentary committee that the electoral body bungled the 2013 elections.

The former ICT director said the commission forced staff to transfer data from BVR to the Evids (electronic voter identification system) kits days before registered voters had an opportunity to certify that their details had been captured properly.

Yano, a lawyer, was among the candidates interviewed for the Chief Justice post and judge of the Supreme Court. She was unsuccessful in both.

Mbagaya’s tenure at NLC is likely to haunt her as she is likely to be asked to explain her alleged involvement in fraudulent acquisition of land belonging to state agencies.

A petition was filed in the National Assembly claiming that Mbagaya fraudulently conspired to influence the renewal of a lease by dispossessing Ms Sayani Investments and issuing a new lease to one Sadhani Limited and Keibukwo Investments Ltd.

“That she was complicit with the chairperson and other commissioners in the irregular payment of compensation for SGR land, including parcels whose title deeds had been revoked,” read the petition.

“That, as chairperson of the NLC committee on Review of Grants and Disposition of Public Land, she allegedly held secret meetings with third parties to the Mwalimu Farm in Kiambu County, hence arriving at a questionable determination that denied the affected persons justice,” the petition said.

Coalition politics

Succession and coalition politics is likely to be a factor as the selection panel pores through the documents submitted by the applicants.

The position of IEBC commissioner attracts a fat Sh621, 250 monthly salary and other perks and these would have persuaded many Kenyans to apply for the positions.

The perks include hefty allowances, security, airtime and an official chauffeured car.

Additionally, family members of commissioners benefit from a full medical cover limited to a spouse and any other dependant and four children under the age of 24 years.

Upon the expiry of their terms, commissioners take home a hefty package amounting to almost 30 per cent of their total salary in the six-year non-renewable term.

With 13 months left to the 2022 General Election, IEBC will be expected to have attained its constitutionally required seven commissioners as advised by the High Court. 

The issue of lack of quorum at the electoral commission was cited by the constitutional court judges who ruled that it cannot organise a referendum or a general election as currently established.

In the ruling, the five-judge bench overturned the decisions made by the IEBC, including verifying BBI signatures, saying the electoral body was not properly constituted as it lacked the requisite quorum of five commissioners to make any major policy decision.

“All the decision IEBC made regarding the constitutional amendment Bill is illegal because it lacks the quorum required,” the judges decreed.

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