Enforce electoral offences law to attain credible polls

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati (center), CEO Ezra Chiloba (right) and Commissioner Roselyne Akombe (left). FILE PHOTO | NMG
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati (center), CEO Ezra Chiloba (right) and Commissioner Roselyne Akombe (left). FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has been under intense scrutiny in the run-up to this election.

A myriad of court cases, questions from contestants and observers on its level of preparedness have all exposed its soft under belly to the public glare. All these seem to be coming to a close as we draw near to the set date.

Barring an unforeseen catastrophe, the General Election will be held in two weeks although at some point this seemed improbable.

Following a hotly disputed presidential election results in 2007 and more recently in 2012, by now the IEBC should have become experts in overseeing elections.

Other elections, like the ones held in 1992 and 1997, should also have served as learning points. My observations of this year’s roller-coaster of lawsuits is that we are yet to learn and agree on the value of early preparations.

I recently read Raila Odinga’s autobiography Flame of Freedom and from its contents one could juxtapose the problems around IEBC’s 2012 preparations to the current circus and still not be far off the mark - complete with a maize scandal.

For the rational Kenyan, our problems with elections seem to be sitting squarely with the referee. In a duel where one contestant feels the referee is not impartial, it is unlikely that a negative outcome would be accepted; more so if previous matches were deemed by the contestant to have been unfairly adjudged.

We therefore ought to place enough resources and plan years ahead before we can demand performance from the electoral body.

A conclusion from the outcomes in the four cited elections, is that there is a pervading malignancy in Kenya that insulates culpable persons from facing consequences when things go wrong on their watch. Nobody seems to be brought to account.

Justice must start from the top and trickle all the way down to the bottom for credible and acceptable results.

I could be wrong but to the best of my recollection, there have been few or no conviction or prosecution of IEBC agents on the ground that caused the chaos leading to the non-acceptance of results.

This is especially the sace over the last two general elections.

At the polling stations, IEBC clerks, presiding and returning officers were not taken to task on shortcomings arising on their watch. Nor were many offered an opportunity to share experiences on the happenings of the last elections to act as a learning point.

Hopefully the enactment of the Election Offences Act 2016 will arrest this trend.

Part 6 of the Act lays out the “rule book” for IEBC staff and the day we start holding people responsible for their actions we will start having credible elections.