NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 25 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has described as healthy the debate elicited by the National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi’s proposal that the electoral body’s commissioners be reduced from the current nine to three.
Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba pointed out on Thursday that the discussion is not something new and it has been considered previously in 2011 when the question was whether to have five part-time or nine full-time commissioners.
“For us where we sit, we feel that it is a good debate to have and whatever Parliament then decides, that is what will be because at that time, they thought it was fit to have nine so if the prevailing circumstances mean that we need to have a different number, that is good. However, for us we encourage the debate to go on. We are public servants and we serve under the legal framework,” he said while presenting the IEBC’s five-year strategy.
Commission Vice chairperson Lillian Mahiri-Zaja welcomed the proposal saying that it would ensure there is continuity within the IEBC.
“Remember that even in 2011, when the IEBC Act was being passed, the initial draft had those recommendations that we have commissioners who were elected even part time because those were some of the proposals, that the chair and vice chair are elected and probably four commissioners part-time,” she stated.
She observed that there was a provision in the constitution that guided the principals of appointing commissioners to commissions.
“This debate is not new. It has always been there and the fact that the Constitution is very clear that constitutional commissions will have a minimum of three commissioners and a maximum of nine, then it is a debate which is out there and Kenyans can discuss it,” she stated.
She underscored the importance of that approach saying it would ensure continuity.
“At the time when the negotiations were on in Naivasha, some of those proposals fell by the wayside and I think because of the political considerations then, the IEBC was constituted as it is today but the debate is healthy and we welcome it as IEBC,” she said.
Muturi had said that the Constitution requires independent commissions to have a minimum of three commissioners, making the additional six serving at the IEBC unnecessary.
He had recommended the reduction of IEBC Commissioners from the current nine to three.
He stated that the current structure of most constitutional commissions still took after the previous structure of provinces stating that the additional commissioners were not performing any unique roles.
He says six out of the nine IEBC commissioners are only meant to serve regional interests and therefore form a burden on the tax payer.
Muturi fearlessly dared those opposed to his proposal to come out and state theirs, insisting it was time the issue of the commissions staffing to be addressed.