, NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 13 – Two candidates shortlisted for the post of Independent Electoral and Boundaries (IEBC) Commissioners were on Tuesday forced to fight off allegations from members of the public that they are unlikely to be impartial in their duties due to their perceived close association with senior figures in the Jubilee Alliance.
Lekakeny Twala and Roselyn Kwamboka who appeared before the IEBC Selection Panel Tuesday denied the allegations which were part of public views submitted challenging their suitability for the office.
Twala, an employee with the Ministry of Health denied claims that his close association with Jubilee had seen him secure various public appointments.
“For the issues of being associated with Jubilee, as a public servant, the code is very clear and I can categorically state I have never participated in activities of Jubilee or any other parties,” Twala said.
Kwamboka, who is Senior Political Advisor at the United Nations Headquarters in New York similarly rubbished claims that she was married to a powerful Jubilee MP.
“If you go a little bit deeper in looking at the job of that particular individual, who is allegedly my husband, that could have been the source of that, because I have worked very closely with various people in the Foreign Service Office. I could see that as a possible source of that allegation, but I have no other reason to give beyond that,” she said.
She had earlier during the interview told the Bernadette Musundi-led Panel that if she got the job she would use her 15 years of experience at the UN to persuade diplomatic missions in the country against interfering in local politics.
“If I were to be privileged to be a member of the commission, I foresee we would have to work very closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and have the regular interactions with the diplomatic representations here and pass those messages in a very strong way; that should you seek to support our electoral process you have to do so in a transparent manner, it cannot be for support of subversive activities,” Kwamboka stated.
This comes a day after President Uhuru Kenyatta publicly claimed unnamed foreign governments are seeking to influence the presidential poll results in next year’s General Election.
Kwamboka constantly had to respond to queries on why she was leaving her lucrative job in New York (which has seen her head the African Observer Mission overseeing political affairs on the continent) to enter the murky waters of the Kenyan political stage.
The 40 year-old mother of two simply smiled and said: “I must admit, that is one of the questions that my boss asked me when I said I was coming over and I have grappled with it having served in an international career for the last 15 years. I feel I have come to that time in my career that I have to come back to my country. I believe that the people of Saragei where I come from invested a lot in taking me to school and helping my parents fund-raise. I owe it to them and I feel I owe the people of Kenya.”
Kwamboka said she would draw from her experience from working with the AU and UN to ensure the public confidence and public trust in the electoral body is re-established after Opposition leaders led month long nationwide demonstrations after some of the current office holders were accused of mismanaging the procurement of electoral material for the 2013 General Election.
“The one thing that I value most in my career is not my PhD or my Masters; it is my integrity because I have handled very difficult and politically sensitive situations and come out with my integrity intact. I think we need to bring people with integrity to the Commission who will build trust and confidence in the IEBC,” she said.
When asked about her views on making voting mandatory in order to deal with voter apathy, Kwamboka remarked that the matter should be put to Kenyans because it touched on the rights of an individual and how they choose express themselves.
During the interview process, the candidates were often thrown off guard by a set of current affairs questions posed to them by Ogla Karani.
For instance Twala had to pass on two out of three questions; first when he was asked to name Africa’s longest serving President (Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and Angola President José Eduardo dos Santos who have both been in power for 35 years while Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe follows in third place with 34 years).
Twala similarly could not recall which country recently held a referendum on its National Flag; (New Zealanders in March this year voted in favour of keeping the current national flag in a referendum, after a 17-month exercise that cost taxpayers US$23.18million).
Kwamboka on her part struggled to state the three pillars of the East African Community.
The committee resumes its sitting on Wednesday and is expected to conclude interviews for the post on Thursday.