, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 17 – The National Assembly is set to commence the process of amending the First Schedule of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Act to provide for the constitution of a selection panel to oversee the vetting of new commissioners.
While reacting to Monday’s resignation of three IEBC commissioners, House Majority Leader Aden Duale on Tuesday said the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) will move with speed to set the amendment in motion.
The three who resigned are Vice-Chairperson Consolata Nkatha, Commissioners Paul Kurgat and Margaret Mwachanya.
“Through the Speaker, I will invite the JLAC to move with speed and see how they can resolve the stalemate and possibly allow for a transitional exit for the remaining commissioners,” he said.
Duale speaking to Citizen TV at Parliament’s Building pointed out that the commission as is currently constituted could not discharge its mandate effectively since it had fallen short of the requisite quorum of five commissioners with four out of seven commissioners having resigned so far.
Rosslyn Akombe was the first commissioner to quit on October 18 last year, a week before the October 26 repeat presidential election citing lack of independence in the poll agency due to meddling by political actors.
“IEBC lacks the quorum and so plenary meeting cannot be fully constituted as envisaged in law,” he remarked.
According to Duale, the process of amending the First Schedule could take about fifty days.
Duale pointed at that the existing law does not cater for subsequent appointments of the commissioners an issue IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati had raised while reacting to the resignation of Nkatha, Kurgat, and Mwachanya on Monday.
“Parliament is yet to enact legislation providing for the recruitment of commissioners subsequent to the first appointment or replacement in the event a vacancy occurs, further to paragraph 1 (2), First Schedule, IEBC Act,” Chebukati stated in a statement.
“As such we are requesting the relevant government organs to act appropriately to ensure the commission’s operations are not stifled,” he appealed.
In his statement, Chebukati termed the resignation of Nkatha, Kurgat and Mwachanya a proof of their inability to accommodate divergent views.
“The real reason for their resignation is the plenary resolution to hold the Commission Secretary (CEO) to account,” he said.
The IEBC Chairperson 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.
Nkatha and Kurgat walked out of the said plenary meeting in protest whereas Mwachanya was away on official duty.
“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,” Chebukati said.
While announcing their resignation, Nkatha, Kurgat, and Mwachanya 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,” they claimed in a joint statement.
“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 added.