Ruto writes to IEBC demanding Mucheru resignation over campaigns

Joe Mucheru

Joe Mucheru, the ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Cabinet Secretary.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) has written a protest letter to the electoral commission demanding the resignation of ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, alleging he is involved in political campaigns for its rival.

UDA alleged that Mr Mucheru was openly campaigning for Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition presidential hopeful Raila Odinga and could use his critical docket to influence the outcome of the August 9 elections.

In the letter received by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) yesterday, UDA Secretary General Veronica Maina cited Mr Mucheru’s recent remarks that they “would ensure the elections are free and fair by making sure systems work”.

UDA now wants the commission to explain the role of Mr Mucheru in the elections.

“In light of the foregoing, we write this protest letter to bring to your attention as the body mandated to conduct elections the remarks by the Cabinet Secretary for ICT and request that you look into the matter and guarantee all parties and Kenyans free and fair elections come August this year,” protested UDA in the letter.

The party, under the Kenya Kwanza Alliance cited section 15 of the Election Offences Act 2016 that provides that a public officer who engages in political campaigns commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding Sh1 million or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.

The party demanded that Mr Mucheru resigns so that he can concentrate on campaigning for Mr Odinga. The party said the CS’s continued stay in office might compromise the independence of the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA).

“Certainly, nothing stops the Cabinetry secretary for ICT from resigning in furtherance of his political rights to support a candidate of his choice and allow other able Kenyans to perform his responsibilities as Cabinet secretary in accordance with the requirements of the law,” said Ms Maina in the letter.

Mr Mucheru and his Interior and Coordination of National Government counterpart, Dr Fred Matiang’i, on Monday attended the unveiling of Martha Karua as Mr Odinga’s running mate at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).

Ms Maina said the alleged involvement of Mr Mucheru was worrying since CA was directly under his supervision. CA is critical in elections in provision of the framework for electronic results transmission.

“Of concern to us is the critical role the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology plays in supervising and overseeing the Communication Authority of Kenya,” said Ms Maina in the letter.

She said the CA provides the technical framework for the electoral commission to conduct digital registration, digital tallying and relying of results electronically.

This, the party said, affects the verifiability, transparency, accountability and credibility of elections as per the Constitution.

“The communication authority’s mandate is also to ensure provision of Kenya’s telecommunications, radio communications and postal courier is conducted in such a manner as to confer optimum benefit to citizens,” she added.

The party said Mr Mucheru had publicly engaged in the political activities of the Azimio coalition and had allegedly expressed unequivocally his support for Mr Odinga.

UDA said that the CS’s decision to openly support Mr Odinga was a blatant breach of the Elections Act and highly comprises the political neutrality of his office.

“In this regard, assuming even that Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology had a role to play in facilitating the elections, his recent remarks compromises his neutrality and the office he holds,” the party added.