Wafula Chebukati is breathing fire. The question is, is he genuine?

The IEBC Chairman and Returning Officer for the Presidential Election Wanyonyi Wafula Chebukati is breathing fire. In the last two days, Mr. Chebukati has written tough letters to NASA, Jubilee and to the IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba asserting the independence of the commission and demanding answers on what went wrong during the August 8th Elections respectively. The question right now is whether his fiery actions are genuine or are just PR gimmicks meant to hoodwink the public that he means business.

Wafula Chebukati wrote a response to Jubilee telling Jubilee that “the Commission is an independent constitutional body, which as per Article 249 of the Constitution shall ‘not be subject to direction or control of any person or authority’.” Chebukati went ahead to tell Jubilee that it is unacceptable for Jubilee to provide a list of staff that Jubilee directs IEBC not to consider for the project team. This response was as result of Jubilee writing to IEBC Chair demanding that certain names be excluded from the Interim Secretariat that will oversee the October 17 Elections. In the response, Chebukati further appealed to Jubilee to “respect the independence of the Commission” and allow the Commission “to make changes as … had already [been] communicated on 1 September 2017”.

NASA has not been spared either from the tough talking IEBC Chair Wafula Chebukati. In a letter to IEBC, Musalia Mudavadi and Raila Odinga asked Mr. Chebukati to exclude certain individuals from the interim secretariat. On this request, Wafula Chebukati responded as follows, “I welcome your comments that the ‘independence of the IEBC is not negotiable’. It is for this reason that we find it unacceptable for you to provide a list of staff that you direct us to ask to ‘step aside and or be suspended'”. NASA too was asked by Chebukati to “respect the independence of the Commission” and allow the Commission “to make changes as … had already [been] communicated on 1 September 2017”.

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To Ezra Chiloba, Wafula Chebukati wrote demanding the IEBC CEO to respond to a number of issues including but not limited to the explanation as to why the satellite phones procured by the Commission for the purposes of results transmission were not used, why certain forms particularly forms 34B did not have security features the Commission required Al Ghurair to put in the forms, and why his password was used several times to perform certain transactions in the IEBC servers. The letter, although marked confidential, has since leaked to the media.

A few days ago, I wrote an article asking Wafula Chebukati to grow new balls. Going by the above letters, it seems that indeed Chebukati has stopped being a coward; he has decided to take matters at the IEBC in his own hands. This however may be PR gimmick the IEBC Chair is playing to hoodwink the public.

If you remember well, in the run up to August 8th General Elections, the outspoken spokesperson for IEBC was Jubilee Party. At every turn of events, Jubilee would be first to defend IEBC against NASA’s onslaught, a situation that led NASA supporters to believe that IEBC had already tilted the ground in favor of Jubilee. This tilt of ground would later be proved at the Supreme Court, forcing the Supreme Court to nullify the presidential election.

After the presidential election was nullified, IEBC was ordered by Supreme Court to conduct another presidential election in strict compliance with Constitutional provisions and observance of relevant laws. IEBC must not only conduct an election that is in accordance to the law but must be seen to be doing just that.

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Thus, if IEBC and Jubilee are playing some sinister games behind the curtains, on the surface the Commission must been seen as independent. For IEBC to appear independent on the surface, the Commission must be seen as being at loggerheads with Jubilee and/or NASA. This can be done by for example Jubilee secretly forwarding names to be appointed in the secretariat but later to publicly demand for those names not to be included in the interim secretariat. IEBC would then refuse to act on the publicly made demands so as to appear independent. This is the theory that those inside NASA have decided to believe.

It could be that IEBC and Wafula Chebukati are playing some sinister games, but it is important to take note that if IEBC is truly independent, then there is no better way to show that independence than have both NASA and Jubilee on its neck. Right now it is better to believe that Wafula Chebukati has indeed grown some balls and him breathing fire on Jubilee, NASA and Chiloba are genuine actions.

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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