We did a good job, Wafula Chebukati tells critics
Electoral commission boss Wafula Chebukati continued to defend himself against criticism about his management of the presidential election, insisting that the August 9 elections were free, fair and credible “despite working in a hostile environment”.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairperson said the electoral agency made significant adjustments to its systems and operations in order to deliver a transparent General Election, later upheld by the Supreme Court.
Speaking during the opening of a post-election evaluation workshop in Mombasa, Mr Chebukati explained that IEBC had incorporated the Supreme Court’s recommendations of 2017 to ensure a verifiable electoral process.
He said these include audit of the voter, timely procurement of materials, equipment and services and recruitment of staff.
“The primary role of the commission was to ensure that election results were verified, tallied and announced,” said Mr Chebukati.
He continued to deny the claims of the four dissenting commissioners that he had sidelined them during the tallying of the presidential votes, saying each one of them was assigned duties to manage critical components of the election.
The IEBC boss said after the appointment of vice-chairperson Juliana Cherera and commissioners Irene Masit, Francis Wanderi, and Justus Nyang’aya, each commissioner chaired a committee of at least two commissioners.
The four new commissioners, who rejected the presidential election results announced by Mr Chebukati, complained about being sidelined in the appointment of returning officers.
However, Mr Chebukati dismissed the claims, saying the commission plenary sat on various occasions to deliberate on election preparedness in addition to participating in technical backstopping of key election activities such as enhanced continuous voter registration, verification and factory visits to monitor production of election materials.
In addition, the commission would hold impromptu crisis meetings and consultations to manage emerging issues such as the mishap of erroneous ballot papers for Mombasa and Kakamega gubernatorial races.
These, he said, were aimed at enhancing policy and strategy formulation and oversight function of the commission, adding that all members of the commission were assigned duties to manage critical components of the election.
“It is, therefore, insincere for any member of the commission and senior staff to allege that they were barred from providing assistance to the election management process,” said Mr Chebukati.
“It is even tragic that some members of the commission would petition the Supreme Court to nullify results that we collectively worked under difficult circumstances to deliver to the people of Kenya.”
He added that it was not true that the results management process was opaque, saying returning officers spent a minimum of three days at the national tallying centre as their return of results were being verified in the presence of agents, the media, and observers before they were announced.
“The most unfortunate incident was the false accusation of staff, in some circumstances under oath by commissioners and fellow staff that exposed innocent hardworking staff to arbitrary arrests, intimidation and harassment by security agencies and political goons,” he said.
Mr Chebukati also addressed the accusation the accusation of Azimio Executive Director Raphael Tuju that he and commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu visited his residence while he was recuperating after a road accident with sinister motives.
“All these unfortunate incidents that border on criminal culpability cannot be swept under the carpet and assume a normal state of affairs. We must confront and address this issue in order to secure a conducive environment for staff to discharge their duties without fear of unlawful reprisals,” said the IEBC boss.