IEBC must fix poll irregularities, illegalities

Saturday October 7 2017

Wafula Chebukati

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati addresses the media flanked by commissioner Roselyn Akombe during the training of election Returning Officers at the Nairobi Safari Club on October 6, 2017. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By GABRIEL DOLAN
More by this Author

Sometimes we would be better off ignoring the airwaves and using the time to reflect quietly on what is really going on behind the headlines.

The Supreme Court ruled that the IEBC had bungled the election through “illegalities and irregularities” but absolved the Jubilee Party of any responsibility for that catastrophe.

Yet within one month, the IEBC has metamorphosed from being a villain to a victim and now confidently informs the nation that everything is in place for the October 26 ballot. What a strange turn of events and changing narrative!

There have, however, been no significant changes in personnel, systems or logistics to indicate that another bungled ballot will not be repeated in three weeks’ time.

Yet the IEBC has the firm support of Western diplomats, the Carter Centre and the NCCK who all keep reminding us of the commission’s independence.

ACCOUNTABLE

That independence, however, should not mean that the institution is free to do whatever it wishes and act as if it is not accountable to the public or to the candidates.

To carry on as if the August fiasco was not a grave management disaster is just unacceptable. It is walking blindfolded into trouble and it is time the commission opened its eyes.

There is no evidence to suggest that IEBC has been vindicated; just a very well orchestrated propaganda campaign projecting them as victims who have been maligned by the Supreme Court and Nasa.

Vigilance is the price of freedom. Voters must have confidence in the IEBC if the outcome is to be accepted.

That is not an easy task because both Nasa and Jubilee are capable of stealing the ballot right in front of the electoral commission’s eyes. There are notable differences between the two presidential candidates in terms of history, priorities, values and lifestyle. But the only difference between the two parties’ teams is ethnicity.

ALLOWANCES

This was best illustrated when MPs recently went to Naivasha for induction. Jubilee and Nasa agreed to reject SRC recommendations on salaries and allowances, insisting that they SRC restores the Sh5 million car grant and medical insurance sufficient to cover several wives and girlfriends. One MP was reported as urging his colleagues to “guard jealousy” their welfare and “let not the politics of Nasa and Jubilee separate us”.

In a nutshell they were agreeing to eat together. No mention of the thousands of their constituents dying needlessly because of the health workers’ strikes or the drought that has ravaged the country.

This example is indicative of the rot and greed that exists in public life. The rewards that come with election success raise the odds of corruption, infiltration and theft at every ballot.

The IEBC cannot be the mediator between the two presidential candidates. That is not its role. Its duty is to ensure that it has addressed professionally, fairly and morally all the major irregularities and illegalities to the satisfaction of the courts, the candidates and especially the voters.

Chief Justice David Maraga has stated that the Supreme Court will not hesitate to nullify another flawed ballot. That is a warning but a more grave one is that the welfare of the nation is at risk this time around. 

 Fr Dolan is a Catholic priest based in Mombasa. [email protected] @GabrielDolan1