NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 7 – Kenya is drawing closer to a new electoral body with interviews for the commissioners coming to a close on October 10 to pave the way for the chairperson’s interviews, which kick off on October 11.
Thirty eight candidates, out of the 44 who had been short-listed for commissioners’ positions have already been interviewed by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) selection panel.
Last week, Mutoka Isaac Shivachi failed to make the cut after it emerged that he had overdue Higher Education Loans Board arrears. Chris Kisire Chepkoit, on the other hand, wrote to the selection panel withdrawing his candidacy indicating that he had taken up another appointment.
“What we did was to contact Mr Chepkoit to find out whether he was actually the author of this letter. He confirmed to the secretariat and to me that he had taken up another appointment so he is not a candidate and we will not be interviewing him,” said selection panel chairperson, Ekuru Aukot.
In addition, some of the nominees who had been short-listed for the interviews have faced allegations of fraud, while others found themselves in the hot seat over their apparent failure to understand the country’s electoral systems.
Anthony Milimu Lubulellah faced accusations of swindling a family of their land and Kennedy Nyaundi was also confronted by claims that he has been involved in corrupt dealings.
Other candidates like Annie Wanjira Mutheithia were put on the spot over their understanding of the Constitution. Wanjira said that before Kenya promulgated the new Constitution there was no demarcation of boundaries before later saying that the Ministry of Lands was charged with the demarcation of boundaries.
She also said that she did not approve of the use of IT in electoral processes as she was not IT savvy.
“I think we should not use ICT in e-booth because there are others, like me, who are not experts in IT so we could be having our own misgivings about counting the votes and doing everything else electronically,” she said.
When she was asked if she could be able to withstand the pressure and challenges of working in the IEBC, Wanjira said she could. Her intentions for joining the IEBC were however put to task by panelist Rosa Buyu.
“You give me the feeling that you’ve been too busy and for the first time you have a little more free time for yourself which is the reason why you want to come to this commission. You just want to do something different. I’m I right in thinking like that?” asked Buyu.
“I think you can say that,” Wanjira responded before Aukot interjected telling her that it is seemed like she wanted to join the IEBC to pass time.
Jane Wanjiru Matu was also unable to give a straight answer on countries whose electoral practices could be emulated while Patrick Kambi Nyanje admitted that he had never participated in any of the country’s electoral processes.
Another nominee, Lilian Bokeeye Mahiri-Zaja, said she would still like to continue serving in the public service if she was appointed as a commissioner in the IEBC. She has also served in several commissions including the Kiruki Commission on the Artur brothers.
“Being a public servant, of course you know, that if I resigned that would mean I would lose my pensionable and permanent terms. But I would want to believe that if I was given a choice to take the option of going on secondment I would so that I don’t lose the pension,” she said.
Several nominees to the IEBC have also taken issue with the uncertainty that surrounds the transition after the incoming commissioners leave office in 2017.
Some like Bwire Camus Albert and James Mugi Mwangi argue that there is need for the country to establish proper mechanisms to establish how the next team of IEBC Commissioners will assume office and facilitate the 2017 general elections.
Only four candidates are yet to be interviewed before the process is concluded.