, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 17 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairperson Wafula Chebukati has termed the resignation of three commissioners Monday as proof of their inability to accommodate divergent views.
Chebukati in a statement released Monday evening defended himself from accusations of treating other commissioners with mistrust saying the controversial decision to have IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba sent on a three months compulsory leave was taken procedurally with three out of five commissioners voting in favor of the motion.
Chebukati alongside Commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu supported the motion which was precipitated by an internal audit that unearthed non-adherence to procurement laws and plenary guidelines in the award and execution of five tenders in the period leading to last year’s elections.
Chebukati also said Vice-Chairperson Consolata Nkatha, and Commissioners Paul Kurgat and Margaret Mwachanya were yet to surrender public assets assigned to them despite having announced their resignations.
“The real reason for their resignation is the plenary resolution to hold the Commission Secretary (CEO) to account,” he said.
“The resigning commissioners had a chance through a crisis meeting held in Naivasha on April 13 to air their grievances – which they did not. They would have also introduced a motion to ask the commission chairperson to review the plenary decision,” he added.
Chebukati noted that the Employment and Labour Relations Court had indeed on Friday last week ruled that Chiloba would not suffer any prejudice if he proceeded on the three months compulsory leave as ordered to facilitate a further probe into the utilization of resources during last year’s elections.
“The commission has since commenced an in-depth audit, which had necessitated sending the Commission Secretary/CEO on compulsory leave,” he said.
Nkatha, Kurgat, and Mwachanya had accused Chebukati of being antagonistic and self-seeking.
“The Commission Chairperson has failed to be the steady and stable hand that steers the ship in difficult times and give direction when needed,” Commissioner Mwachanya said accompanied by Nkatha and Kurgat.
“Under his leadership, the Commission boardroom has become a venue for peddling misinformation, grounds for brewing mistrust, and a space for scrambling for and chasing for individual glory and credit,” the trio said in a joint statement.
The exit came ahead of an anticipated follow-up crisis meeting even as it emerged that a meeting held on Friday last week with a view of closing ranks between two rival factions failed to yield fruit.
While confirming Chebukati’s return to the country from an election conference in Nigeria, IEBC Communications Manager Andrew Limo had told Capital FM News that there was no plenary meeting scheduled for the day.
“Chairman is back and in office. There is no plenary meeting, only regular management meeting,” Limo said.
According to Chebukati’s statement, the “regular management meeting” Limo seemed to have referred to early in the day was centered on the state of affairs at the commission.
The meeting attended by Commissioner Guliye as well as acting CEO Hussein Marjan, directors and managers, sought to reassure field staff of the commission’s support in preparation for of by-elections triggered by the nullification of elections in some parts of the country.
In his statement, Chebukati urged Parliament to move with speed and enact legislation providing for the replacement of commissioners in the event a vacancy occurs as contemplated in the First Schedule of the IEBC Act.
The Act sets the quorum for IEBC plenary meetings at five, the resignation of Nkatha, Kurgat and Mwachanya rendering the commission dysfunctional in as far as plenary meetings are concerned.
The trio joins Commissioner Roselyn Akombe who was the first to call it quit on October 18 last year, a week to the October 26 repeat presidential poll, citing interference from political players and partisan politics within the commission.
The IEBC Chairperson however assured in his statement on Monday that all scheduled by-election will proceed uninterrupted since he had gazzeted names of respective Returning Officers as required by law.
He said the officials will oversee the mini-polls and subsequently announce the results before forwarding them to him for publication in the Kenya Gazzate.