The public and institutional image of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has been under severe and unrelenting battering since the 2017 General Election. Under the chairmanship of Wafula Chebukati, it has stumbled from one crisis to the next, which, cumulatively, has not helped matters in inspiring public confidence in the leadership and institution.
It should be curious for the public to find out just how much of IEBC total budget goes into litigation and self-defence of its leadership, and actions.
At the very least of expectations, and for the sake of his legacy, Mr Chebukati should do IEBC one last service to restore its image and public confidence in a critical national institution: Resign in good faith.
For all his civic, legal and moral consciousness, it would be too much for him to insist on staying on, knowing what he knows, the public view of IEBC and his leadership and how dismally and repeatedly the highest courts have evaluated his leadership and performance, which are in the public domain.
At a meeting of IEBC top leadership and a section of stakeholders in Mombasa last month, a question was put to the electoral body as to why it did not bother to file a petition to clear its name, image and, perhaps, expunge from the record some stinging and crushing indictments by the courts of its performance, competence and handling of the 2017 polls.
The IEBC officials did not respond to that concern.
For instance, IEBC admitted to shunning electronic result transmission systems procured from France at a high cost to taxpayers to rely on unverifiable photography of manually filled forms whose images were transmitted as WhatsApp and SMS posts.
The latest punch in IEBC’s nose came from the direction of the Court of Appeal last month, when it upheld a High Court decision that it was not properly constituted without at least five commissioners. That implied its decisions, processes, transactions and contracts were deemed illegal, null and voice.
That put into question the legality of IEBC business such as by-elections since 2017 polls and the ongoing preparations for next year’s elections.
It should not be that nobody takes responsibility for IEBC’s dismal performance, and for which the taxpayer pays heavily in litigation and legal fees.
The performance of the IEBC chair, with all his experience in law and years of practice, cannot be said to have given IEBC sound, honest counsel and leadership to promote its image and stature in the eyes of the public, peer commissions and public bodies.
The Constitution, at Chapter 15, provides for removal of members of independent commissions on one or more of these grounds: Serious violation of the Constitution; gross misconduct during performance of duty or otherwise; physical or mental incapacity; incompetence; and bankruptcy.
The buck stops with Mr Chebukati. If does not step aside for IEBC’s good, and public image, and confidence in the institution, he should be forced out.
Mr Kwinga is a political scientist. [email protected] gmail.com.