Leaders differ on whether outgoing IEBC team should take up public service jobs

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Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Issack Hassan (second right) addresses the media at the agency’s offices in Nairobi on May 5, 2016. He is flanked by IEBC chief executive Ezra Chiloba (second left) and commissioners Kule Galma Godana and Thomas Letangule. There is debate on whether they should be barred from taking up public service jobs or not. FILE PHOTO

By JUSTUS WANGA

As former commissioners of the electoral body pave way for new office holders, debate is raging on whether they can take up jobs in the public service or vie for elective positions.

There is varied opinion on whether they should be or should not be barred from taking up other jobs just because they served in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat says the party will robustly oppose any attempt by the ruling coalition to engage the former IEBC bosses.

“It would look like there was insider trading to influence the outcome of this year’s General Election, something we have always suspected,” he said.
Cord accuses the retiring staff of bias and says they have been operating on borrowed time at the Anniversary Towers offices.

“They are worried and that is why they are trying to do what they are trying to do. Kenyans will not tolerate another rigging,” ODM leader Raila Odinga is on record as saying.

Such a possibility is not entirely new to Jubilee Government.

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Shortly after the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) was disbanded after delivering the 2010 referendum and new commissioners were hired, two of the commissioners were hired by Jubilee parties with Davis Chirchir becoming a strategic adviser for the United Republican Party (URP) headed by William Ruto while another former commissioner, Ms Winnie Guchu, was appointed TNA executive director.

TNA was led by Uhuru Kenyatta. Mr Chirchir would later be appointed Energy Cabinet Secretary upon the formation of the Jubilee Government.

FORWARDED NAMES

President Kenyatta on Thursday forwarded names of seven individuals he picked from a list he received from the interview panel chaired by Ms Bernadette Musundi for the approval of the National Assembly.

They include lawyer Wafula Chebukati for chairman, Consolata Nkatha Bucha Maina, Boya Molu, Roselyne Kwamboka Akombe, Paul Kibiwott Kurgat, Margaret Wanjala Mwachanya and Abdi Guliye as commissioners.

Mass protests called by the opposition saw the old commissioners lose their jobs last year in an arrangement negotiated by a joint select committee co-chaired by Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi and his Siaya counterpart James Orengo.

Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru (Jubilee) holds that it would be unfair to deny members of the outgoing commission other job openings yet some of them are still in their prime to serve the public.

“Blacklisting them for no justifiable reason would be tantamount to punishing them for the good job they have done. Remember these ladies and gentlemen resigned of their own volition, not because they committed some illegality but for the sake of peace in the country,” he said.

Other than preventing them from running for either senatorial or parliamentary seats, the Constitution does not bar them from seeking other elective or appointive seats.

Article 99 2(b) says a person is disqualified from being elected a Member of Parliament if the person has, at any time within the five years immediately preceding the date of election, held office as a member of IEBC.

VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION

Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar says that except for the circumstances under Article 99 of the Constitution, no other law or statute bars them from holding public office.

The team which oversaw the 2013 elections included Issack Hassan (chairman), vice-chairperson Lilian Mahiri-Zaja, commissioners; Thomas Letangule, Muthoni Wangai, Mohamed Allawi, Abdullahi Sharawe, Yusuf Nzibo, Kule Galma and Albert Bwire.

Had they been kicked out of office for violating Article 251 on removing members of Independent Commissions from office, the outgoing IEBC bosses would have been ineligible for public service.

It cites serious violation of the Constitution or any other law, including a contravention of Chapter Six which touches on integrity, gross misconduct, physical or mental incapacity, incompetence as some of the grounds that permanently disqualified them from public service.

Mr Letangule told the Nation that there would be no conflict of interest were any of his nine colleagues to take up government job, now or in future. He said he would not hesitate to take up an offer were it to come his way.

“Governments have the tradition of picking experienced and well-grounded individuals to perform specialized tasks. Why should immense skills we have acquired over time go to waste?” he posed.

The commissioner chaired dispute resolution tribunal that heard and determined cases by aspirants who felt short-changed by their political parties in the issuance of nomination certificate in early 2013.

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Kenya

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