IEBC infighting is good, very good. Neither Chiloba nor Chebukati should resign

I don’t know who did it. I mean, leaked that Chebukati memo to the media which led to a drama intensive IEBC infighting. Was it Chiloba’s call? I highly doubt, unless Chiloba has a point by point blow to the 12 questions that will exonerate him from any wrongdoing. Was it Chebukati’s call? Very likely. The only reason Chebukati could have sanctioned the leak is if Chiloba wasn’t responding as demanded, and so the leak was meant to lynch Chiloba in public. The third option could be some IEBC stuff e.g. a cleaner most probably a NASA supporter came across the letter and decided to secretly take photos of the memo and send to a friend, and that’s how it found its ways to the media.

Before the memo found its way to the media, there were rumours published by mainstream media that there was a serious IEBC infighting, infighting that some have said ended up being physical. IEBC through their official Twitter account would release a statement to the public explaining away the rumours, reiterating that all is well within IEBC. Shortly after the rumours, Wafula Chebukati would release names of certain individuals to head a Project team to oversee the fresh Presidential Election. This team is meant to practically take over from the Secretariat headed by Ezra Chiloba. This came after Chebukati had put the blame for the shambolic presidential election squarely in the house of Chiloba following the annulment of the presidential election.

The naming of the Project team caused a sharp division at IEBC where some commissioners wanted the Secretariat to still be the one to handle the fresh presidential election. The Secretariat too stayed put after they had been asked by the Chair to resign, forcing the Chair to set them aside. Part of the Secretariat even went to Court asking the Labour Court to stop the Chair from using the Project Team for carrying out the fresh presidential election. The Court declined to grant their plea.

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Then the memo leaked.

Several hours after the memo was all the media and in every Kenyan’s social media timeline, the official IEBC twitter handle published a press statement in which some five commissioners distance themselves from the Chebukati Memo to Chiloba.

However, two or so hours later Commissioners Amb. Paul Kurgat and Margaret Mwachanya would issue statements distancing themselves from the Press Statement that disowned the Chebukati Chiloba Memo:

“This is to kindly inform you that I was not consulted or briefed on the statement attributed to IEBC commissioners and sent to the newsrooms this evening. I encourage my colleagues to make use of our internal mechanisms and opportunities. I had fruitful discussions this evening with Bishop Alfred Rotich at Waumini house during which the statement was released.” Wrote Commissioner Amb. Paul Kurgat.

“It has come to my attention that a purported Memo is going rounds online and on mainstream media to the effect that I, Margaret Mwachanya, alongside four other commissioners, have dismissed an earlier Memo by the Chairman Mr. Wafula Chebukati to the CEO, Mr. Ezra Chiloba. I am NOT among the authors of the purported document. Neither the hatcher of the idea”, Commissioner Margaret Machwanya would clarify.

The disownment and counter disownment of Memos from IEBC lend voice to the theory that there is sharp division within the independent electoral body. There are people within the Commission who feel that only when the public is invited to see the dirty laundry, no one will pick them up to wash them clean.

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The level at which mistrust has reached at IEBC has made many Kenyans doubt the competency of IEBC to carry out free, fair and transparent elections, especially now that the presidential election is a mere 38 days away. Over at Facebook, Ephraim Njega asked, “Will it be possible to hold credible elections in 40 days under the circumstances?” He then concluded, “We are in a very hard place as a country. We need to quickly decide on the way forward. The future is looking cloudy.”

Although many people see the IEBC infighting as a humongous challenge that will hinder IEBC from delivering free, fair, credible and transparent elections, I see it as the only chance we have to finally get the elections right. Following the public disagreements within IEBC, we have seen Jubilee humbly address the press saying that they are interested in holding consultative meetings with IEBC, but not in the absence of NASA, a position that Jubilee would never have taken if all Commissioners were talking the same language.

Secondly, the mistrusts the Commissioners have for another has greatly reduced the chances for any one of them taking some back door routes to compromise the elections. NASA leaning Commissioners will be on the lookout for any mischief from Jubilee leaning Commissioners, and vise versa.

Thirdly, the IEBC infighting has for the first time led Jubilee to also complain about the Commission. In the run to August 8th General Elections, the only party that was always complaining about IEBC was NASA, and interestingly the first defender for IEBC at every turn was Jubilee – which only meant one thing, Jubilee and IEBC were lying on the same bed.

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Lastly, Kenyans from both political divides are now equally scared that rigging can be done against them. Jubilee function is already spreading propaganda that some of the Project team members were people who planted evidence for rigging that would favor Raila petition, whereas NASA function is very skeptical of the reforms Chebukati is undertaking.

It is thus obvious why we need to hope and pray for continual infighting and distrust at IEBC, as long as the IEBC infighting doesn’t lead to the cancellation of October 17, 2017. Cancellation of October 17, 2017 would lead to a Constitutional crisis and possibly a military takeover of the Government or formation of a coalition Government, a possibility that NASA supporters believe is what Jubilee wants.

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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