IEBC: Incompetent, corrupt or both

Dn Twalib
Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

The melodrama surrounding the Nairobi senator and gubernatorial aspirant Johnson Sakaja’s degree has opened a can of worms for those who have used fake degrees to gain employment and vie for political seats. It has also shone a light on the universities and regulatory agencies that are accountable for the degree of mess that we are in on fake degrees in the first place.

Politicians accused of using fake degrees to gain clearance for the upcoming general elections have alleged witch-hunt and fallen short of blaming the goat for eating their degree certificate. Most of them, including Sakaja, have not given a convincing reason why their educational documents have been flagged as being fake.

However, that is just half of the story. We need to also ask how politicians who have already served five to 10 or even 15 years have been elected and now suddenly have fake degrees? It’s not rocket science to see that politics is at the heart of the current claims.

Political parties and IEBC were quiet in the past elections about politicians using fake degrees and are now out baying for the blood of politicians who have switched allegiance. Sakaja was the darling of the ruling Jubilee Party, for instance. Did the party not know then that he had a fake degree or they were, together with IEBC, blind to impunity in favour of power?

The next we wait to hear is that Deputy President William Ruto’s PhD certificate is equally fake now that he is, with all intents and purposes, the opposition. Even more troubling is that he’s is demanding the former opposition leader, Raila Odinga, to prove his degree too. Politicians are pointing a finger while three are pointing back at them on fake degree certificates.

If IEBC had taken time to investigate documents presented to them and liaised properly with oversight bodies such as the Commission for University Education (CUE) and universities abroad, they would have drained the swamp of academic degree fraudsters.

IEBC is also coming out as corrupt. Their own integrity has been put to question for failure to apply due diligence and care when perusing credentials of political aspirants. A fake degree that is unearthed after an individual has been cleared by IEBC not once, twice but thrice is a testament that IEBC is the rotting head in our politics. They cannot absolve themselves of fake degree mania in the political sphere.

Interconnected world

It takes a letter, an email and a phone call to contact colleges. It is an interconnected world that needs not a messenger on a donkey back to travel to Uganda or the UK to probe a degree. The incompetence exhibited by IEBC is staggering. To think we rely on them for free and fair elections is troubling. How can they count votes if they cannot determine a degree is fake?

IEBC’s corrupt nature can be discerned in the way it dismissed the list of ineligible individuals that was presented to them by EACC. Some 241 names were sent to IEBC of individuals who had ‘fallen short of moral and ethical standards’ following ‘outstanding integrity issues’. They are either facing criminal cases in court, have been convicted or due to be taken to court for a crime.

IEBC’s view is that their hands are tied as they had no legal rule to rely upon to stop convicts, murderers, and rapists from vying for political seats. They are plain wrong. They can and should have barred the 241 individuals who were flagged ‘retrospectively’ until legislation is put in place. Retrospective legislation is very crucial on matters of criminal nature and in the public interest. Corruption is one such issue and IEBC ought to have acted appropriately, rather than let rabid dogs roam, infecting the whole society with rabies.

For not acting on corruption is akin to leaving a bad apple in a fruit basket and praying all the others remain fresh.

EACC has gone out of its way to furnish IEBC with the names and all the electoral agency needed to do was not clear them based on the evidence provided. They have plucked up lame excuses from the air to stand by corruption.

The only way to instill credibility back into politics, politicians and IEBC is to conduct fresh audit of academic papers presented at least in the past two elections. Those found to have forged papers to gain political and financial advantage to be made to refund taxpayers money. Hopefully, be jailed too. Any distinguished audit firm can easily take up the exercise.

Agencies such as IEBC should be competent and incorruptible. The evidence shows disturbing trend of incompetence and corruption in an organisation that is meant to oversee a general election. We cannot win the integrity war in politics with an incompetent and corrupt electoral body. IEBC should bear in mind the scars of the 2007/2008 post-election violence and the nullified elections of 2017.

Good governance is theirs to deliver.

Ms Guyo is a legal researcher. [email protected] @kdiguyo


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