, NAIROBI, Kenya, April 16 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairperson Wafula Chebukati on Monday said he was yet to receive formal resignation notices from three commissioners.
In a statement sent hours after Vice Chairperson Consolata Nkatha and Commissioners Paul Kurgat and Margaret Mwachanya announced their decision to quit, Chebukati said he came to learn of their exit through media reports.
“I am yet to receive communication on the matter. The commission will give a comprehensive statement at an appropriate time,” a statement published on the commission’s Twitter account read.
The three commissioners told a news conference on Monday morning that Chebukati had failed to provide leadership in the commission while accusing him of being antagonistic.
“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 flanked 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.
Internal wrangles at the Anniversary Towers-based Commission became apparent on Monday last week when it emerged Chebukati, Molu and Guliye had voted to send IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba on three months compulsory leave in a plenary meeting Vice-Chairperson Nkatha and Commissioner Kurgat walked out of in protest.
Commissioner Mwachanya was said to be away at the time Chebukati convened the plenary meeting to discuss an internal audit which revealed gaps in the award of five election-related tenders.
The announcement by Nkatha, Kurgat, and Mwachanya on Monday came ahead of an anticipated plenary meeting that was to be chaired by Chebukati who returned to the country from an election conference in Nigeria.
“Chairman is back and in office. There is no plenary meeting, only regular management meeting,” IEBC Communications Manager Andrew Limo told Capital FM News.
The exit of Nkatha, Kurgat, and Mwachanya brings to four the number of Commissioners that have left IEBC.
Commissioner Roselyn Akombe was the first to call it quit on October 18 last year, a week to the October 26 repeat presidential poll.
Akombe cited interference from political players and lack of independence among Commissioners.
With only three Commissioners, the poll agency falls below the requisite quorum for making binding resolutions.
The quorum is set at five by the IEBC Act.
The Commission Secretariat is also limping after the Employment and Labour Relations Court on Friday declined to stop the three months mandatory leave imposed on Chiloba.
“It would be prudent in the view of the court to have the full facts before issuing any orders,” Justice Stephen Radido ruled while declining to issue ex-parte orders sought by Chiloba through his lawyer Andrew Wandabwa.
In his affidavit, Chiloba had told the court that the decision to have him go on compulsory leave was prejudicial since he was not accorded an opportunity to defend himself.
He also faulted Chebukati for convening a plenary meeting without following due procedure with regards to quorum.
Justice Radido set May 7 as the hearing date for Chiloba’s petition having directed all IEBC Commissioners to file affidavits ahead of the hearing.
Weighing in on the resignation of Nkatha, Kurgat, and Mwachanya, Kieni lawmaker Kanini Kega while addressing the press in Nyeri on Monday asked Chebukati to resign on grounds that he was incompetent.
“Akombe resigned, three more have resigned saying Chebukati is always at loggerheads with the secretariat and other commissioners. It cannot be that everybody else is on the wrong and you’re the only one on the right,” he said.
Moving forward, Kega said the number of commissioners serving in the electoral commission should be reduced to five.
“We need a maximum of five commissioners. All that we need is a strengthened and robust secretariat,” he said adding that the number of commissioners in other independent commissions should also be trimmed to five.