The sacking of Ezra Chiloba last week has added to the growing list of vacant positions at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The commission is currently operating with four key directorates lacking substantive office holders, out of nine directorates.
In addition to the three, the commission has not appointed a replacement for former deputy CEO (operations) Betty Nyabuto-Sungura who left the commission in November 2017 on the expiry of her term.
There have been reports that IEBC is considering scrapping some senior positions in a new management structure, with Ms Nyabuto-Sungura’s former office among those targeted.
Since Mr Chiloba was sent on compulsory leave in April 2018, deputy CEO (support services) Marjan Hussein Marjan was promoted to take charge of the running of the commission’s secretariat. It means that his former position is also unoccupied as he concentrates on running the commission as acting CEO.
Since Mr Chiloba was sacked a week ago, there have been speculation that the commissioners would soon confirm him to take over the CEO’s position in an acting capacity.
With regard to directors, the commission in August appointed three people to act in different directorates in places of those whose terms had expired.
Those who were appointed were Mr Chrispine Owiye who is now the acting director, legal and public affairs. The last substantive holder of the position was Ms Praxedes Tororey who left in September last year. She is now a member of the Independent Police Oversight Authority.
Since August, Mr Mohamed Osman Hassan, previously the manager administration, is now the acting director, human resource directorate. The last substantive holder was Ms Sellestine Kiuluku, whose contract expired in March 2017.
Similarly, finance directorate is currently held by Ms Agatha Wahome, in an acting capacity. Before the appointment, Ms Wahome was the finance manager. The supply chain directorate is headed by mr Bernard Nyachio.
It is the same story at the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties, where former IEBC manager in charge of electoral training Ann Njeri Nderitu has been seconded to take over from long-serving head Lucy Ndung'u who moved to the Commission on Administrative Justice (Ombudsman) as a commissioner. Ms Nderitu, too, is on an acting capacity.
IEBC is going through a testing time with the commission also having four vacancies in addition to the high number of senior secretariat staff serving in acting capacities.
Four commissioners — vice chairperson Connie Maina, Dr Paul Kurgat, Dr Roselyn Akombe and Ms Margaret Mwachanya — have all resigned since the Supreme Court nullified the August 2017 presidential election.
Left to run the limping commission are chairman Wafula Chebukati and commissioners Prof Abdi Guliye and Mr Boya Molu.
Mr Chiloba was sacked on October 12 for “discourteous and disrespectful conduct” towards the commission.
“Following adverse findings of the internal audit report dated August 20, 2018, touching on your responsibilities as the commission’s accounting officer, you were issued with a Notice to Show Cause letter dated August 29, 2018. Your written responses to the show cause letter were found to be unsatisfactory,” the termination letter read.
On his part, Mr Chiloba has maintained that his sacking was malicious and was in itself an indictment of IEBC’s governance crisis.
Several managers and regional co-ordinators have also recently been reshuffled as IEBC works to get the right mix and hopefully restore public confidence in the commission beleaguered by infighting, allegations of partisanship and adverse audit findings.
The commission, however, has very limited time to get the right mix before the busy schedule kicks in from 2020. IEBC is expected to start the boundaries review in 2020 and complete it at least a year before the elections in 2022.
Meanwhile, more than a year since the 2017 election, IEBC is still saddled with billions in pending bills.
Of immediate concern is Sh1.4 billion, whose approvals had been done, but to date has not been released to the commission.