Why all is not well at IEBC

Wednesday March 18 2020

From left: IEBC commissioners Paul Kurgat, Margaret Mwachanya and vice-chairperson Consolata Maina. They have resigned the electoral commission. FILE PHOTOS | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Exactly one year after the August 8 General Election, the poll agency is battling to convince Kenyans that it is functional following the resignations of four out of its seven commissioners.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was crippled following the exit of vice chairperson Consolata Nkatha, and commissioners Paul Kurgat and Margaret Mwachanya in April.

Dr Roselyne Akombe, resigned eight days to the October 26 repeat presidential poll.

With only three commissioners — chairman Wafula Chebukati, and commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu — the IEBC is crippled, and cannot sit as plenary with the quorum required to be at least five commissioners.

Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi has reignited the push to reconstitute the IEBC with others questioning the legality of the current team over lack of quorum.


“What was identified as the cause of tension has not been resolved. As we speak, the IEBC is in a shambles, it is riddled with corruption and they are taking each other to court,” Mr Mudavadi told NTV on Sunday.

READ: Omtatah sues 3 IEBC commissioners

READ: Former officials fight claims in IEBC row

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr on Tuesday told the Nation that Kenyans should be ‘very worried” about the current state of the IEBC.

“Kenyans should be worried that the upcoming by-elections might be thrown out by the courts later because of questions of legality. We cannot assume all is well,” Mr Kilonzo Jr said.

The IEBC has planned various by-elections in Baringo South constituency, North Kadem ward (Migori County) and Bobasi Chache ward (Kisii County) on August 17, with that of Migori Senate mini-poll coming up on October 18.


The Nation could not get any of the commissioners to comment on the matter on Tuesday, but in a brief tabled before the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, the commission stood its ground, saying it was still able to perform its functions.

“Save for conduct of plenary sittings, the commission being lawfully constituted, there is no limitation by law on the discharge of the functions of the commission vis-à-vis its current membership,” the IEBC said in defence.

IEBC has, in a case by activist Okiya Omtatah, and which will be heard next month, also sought the interpretation of the provision of the IEBC Act that provides that quorum for any plenary sitting should be five.

The commission argues that the section is inconsistent with the Constitution which they argue only sets the minimum and maximum number of commissioners at 3 and 9, respectively.

Even then, the IEBC argued, there was an “intricate-conjoined but distinct relationship” between the commission and secretariat that Mr Chebukati said allowed them to carry out most of the functions.

But even as the discussion over the quorum goes on, the commission has opened its doors for a post-election evaluation that they say will help them prepare better for the next elections.