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Interviews to pick Kenya’s next polls team start

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 26 – Interviews to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) kicked off on Monday morning where five out of the 44 short-listed candidates faced the panel. 

Ali Hassan, Yusuf Nzibo, Huldah Kemunto, Mwenda Makathimo and Esther Damar appeared before the IEBC selection panel to put up a case why they should be hired to be part of the team to manage Kenya’s elections. 

The selection panel under the chairmanship of Ekuru Aukot, put Hassan to task over resignation as the Managing Director of the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) amidst accusations of mismanagement.

Although media reports mid this year, indicated that Hassan had been sacked alongside four other managers at the parastatal, he insisted that he resigned because of political interference with the commission’s roles.

This prompted Aukot to question his ability to perform as a commissioner in the IEBC, without any fear.

“You seem to be a quitter to me. Just compare the IEBC and the KMC. Which one do you think has more political pressure? Will you be able to handle it?” asked Aukot.

Hassan, who is currently out of formal employment, however maintained that he would use the law to shield himself from any political manipulation and that he would stand his ground when such challenges arose.

The selection panel also accused the former MD of passing the buck and refusing to take responsibility over KMC’s shortcomings. Hassan kept insisting that he inherited the former regime’s failures at KMC and should therefore not be blamed. 

Nzibo, who is among those from the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) who were shortlisted, also faced allegations of mismanagement of funds when he worked as Kenya’s Ambassador to The Netherlands.

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Panel member Irene Keino read out accusations leveled against him when he was in The Netherlands and also as a commissioner with the IIEC where his ability to work with others was questioned.

“You are accused of lacking good relationship with other staff, ignoring rules and procedures of handling expenditure and general professional misconduct. Kindly comment on these issues,” she said.

Nzibo denied the allegations saying he at no time managed the financial aspects of the embassy.

“I am very surprised by that particular issue because I never dealt with issue of finances in my role as Ambassador and we always worked as a team so your question is particularly surprising to me,” he stressed.  

Panelist Rosa Buyu noted that he had initiated the logo and emblem used by the IIEC as well as the colors used in the referendum on his own, an accusation he denied. 

On her part, Kemunto was questioned over the role of election observers as well as her credibility and integrity as a commissioner of the IEBC. 

She maintained that she would uphold high moral authority over the process to ensure that the commission did not lose credibility among Kenyans. 

When it was his turn before the panel, Makathimo was grilled over allegations that he disagreed with fellow commissioners in the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission (IIBRC) and would not cooperate. 

It also emerged that he did not sign the Ligale report on boundaries.

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“There is a perception that I want to correct. At no time was I away from the meetings of the commission. Mr Chairman the last meeting that I attended and recorded my dissent was held at Methodist Guest House and it concluded with the AOB,” he insisted. 

He added that he was not invited to sign the report and did not see it until later. 

Asked what aspects of the report he did not agree with, Makathimo argued that it was incomplete and had listed constituencies that were beyond the constitutional margins. He said that the report was therefore unconstitutional.  

The selection panel intends to interview five candidates per day over the next nine working days.


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