House team IEBC commissioners reduced to three

House Committee reports that some of the commissioners cannot explain their daily duties.

Friday March 25 2016

From left: Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission vice chair Lilian Mahiri-Zaja, vice CEO Betty Suguna, Chairman Issack Hassan and CEO Ezra Chiloba launch the election operation plan 2015-2017 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi on January 14, 2016. PHOTO | JAMES EKWAM |

From left: Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission vice chair Lilian Mahiri-Zaja, vice CEO Betty Suguna, Chairman Issack Hassan and CEO Ezra Chiloba launch the election operation plan 2015-2017 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi on January 14, 2016. PHOTO | JAMES EKWAM | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JOHN NGIRACHU
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The Public Accounts Committee wants Parliament to reduce the number of IEBC commissioners to three, change their manner of selection and separate their role from that of the secretariat.

This, the watchdog committee has said in the report tabled Wednesday, is important to give the next General Election the credibility it needs and avoid the disputes that have marked the past two elections.

The legislative changes proposed by PAC would affect the management of IEBC finances and its management, making it fully independent.

They would also define the relationship between the commissioners and the secretariat

“In particular, the integrity of the voting process must be completely beyond reproach, so as to make the outcome of the elections truly representative of the wishes of the people of Kenya,”  the report says. 

The report is critical of the commissioners, led by chairman Issack Hassan, whom it alleges interfered with day-to-day operations of the IEBC and procurement matters and played a big part in the collapse of the process to buy Biometric Voter Registration kits.

“During submissions by the IEBC Commissioners, it was apparent that majority of them (commissioners) could not satisfactorily explain to the Committee their daily routine work, in a full day’s engagement,” PAC stated in the report.

POLICY ROLES

The MPs concluded that the lack of full-time duties for the commissioners could have been behind their interference in matters that fell under the mandate of the secretariat headed by the CEO.

To avoid functional overlaps, PAC recommends, the commissioners should restrict their roles to policy, oversight and supervision of the secretariat only. PAC asks the National Assembly to comprehensively review the IEBC Act to ensure this is done.

The IEBC should comprise three members serving on a part-time basis, PAC says, and the National Assembly should urgently amend the IEBC Act by deleting the entire section on the appointment of the commissioners.

This should be followed by changes to the parts of the law on how the commissioners are selected.

“The process of nominating and appointing the Commissioners should be as participatory and inclusive as possible, taking into account key national interests, particularly national unity and inclusivity and the involvement of all key stakeholders,” it says.

This suggests a return to the agreement between political parties before the 1997 General Election that resulted in the nomination of commissioners to the electoral body with the consent of the parties.

PAC observes that the nine directorates at IEBC are far too many, some of which have overlapping functions to the extent that it makes operations ineffective and creates confusion.

It gives the directorates of voter registration and electoral operations, voter education and partnership, research and development and ICT as examples.

To correct this and have a lean and efficient secretariat, PAC says, Parliament should redefine the role of the commission’s secretary, the composition of the secretariat, the mode of creation and the number of directorates, field offices, units, divisions or committees.

Those directorates, field offices, units, divisions or committees with overlapping roles should be merged or scrapped altogether, the report says.

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