, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 16 – Three Commissioners at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) have resigned.
Vice-Chairperson Consolata Nkatha, Commissioners Paul Kurgat and Margaret Mwachanya announced their exit from the poll agency on Monday citing disunity.
In a joint statement, the three commissioners expressed concern over external meddling in the commission’s affairs saying Chairperson Wafula Chebukati had failed to provide leadership.
“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 three said.
The resignation of the three leaves the IEBC technically dysfunctional with only Chebukati, and Commissioners Boya Molu and Abdi Guliye remaining put.
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.
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 IEBC Commissioner to call it quits on October 18 last year, a week to the October 26 repeat presidential poll.
Akombe cited external interference 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 by Chebukati.
Chiloba’s suspension was linked to an internal audit that revealed non-adherence to procurement laws and plenary guidelines in the award and execution of five tenders for supply of materials and services for the August 8, 2017 General Election and the subsequent October 26 repeat presidential election.
“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.
“The purported decision was hastily arrived at by three Commissioners without affording me an opportunity to answer to any of the allegations including responding to the internal audit report,” he said.
He also faulted Chebukati for convening a plenary meeting without following due procedure with regards to quorum.
“The purported decision was arrived at without the requisite quorum in terms of the number of Commissioners required for the Commission to transact business as envisaged in the Second Schedule to the IEBC Act,” he added saying his exclusion in the plenary, as Commission Secretary, meant that the meeting was not duly constituted.
Justice Radido set May 7 as the hearing date for Chiloba’s petition having directed all IEBC Commissioners to file affidavits ahead of the date.