Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati has criticized the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) for using the commission as a scapegoat.
In a statement released on Friday, Chebukati faulted the BBI report for singling out the election body as part of the problem in every divisive election.
According to the electoral body chair, the proponents of BBI are using the commission as a scapegoat to justify their movement of starting on a clean slate. He thus terms the proposed changes as an attack on the commission body.
“IEBC notes that it has been singled out as the only Independent Commission and indeed entity whose establishment is sought to be removed by way of the proposed changes in the BBI report under Divisive Elections thematic area,” read the statement in part.
— IEBC (@IEBCKenya) October 23, 2020
It adds, “Additionally, the Report claws back on the gains made over the years on electoral management in Kenya. This targeted onslaught against the Commission is not new as it has been occurring after every general election since 1992. The sustained campaigns weaken and interfere with the independence of the Commission which is guaranteed under Article 88 as read together with Article 248 and 249 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.”
The BBI task force has recommended that the current IEBC team led by Wafula Chebukati be sent home before the 2022 polls.
In a report presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake partner Raila Odinga on Wednesday, the 11-member Building Bridges Initiative Steering Committee led by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji proposed that new commissioners be picked to conduct the next General Election to strengthen faith in the electoral body.
“New Members of the Commission to have proper induction in their new roles and responsibilities regarding election management in general, ” the report reads.
They are to be given a thorough grounding in matters of corporate governance as it relates to the IEBC, and the relationship between the Commission and the Secretariat in particular. This includes independence from external influence or interference.
The BBI team further recommends that all current senior officers of IEBC be vetted.
“The titles of senior IEBC staff should be reviewed from Director to a lesser title such as ‘Head of Department’, ” the proposal reads.
“The Heads of Departments or Managers should be restored, as in the previous Commission, in order to provide guidance, communicating standards and ensuring departmental compliance for all
The report proposes that all IEBC staff be employed on a three-year contract, renewable only once, and only if their performance is good.
Returning officers should be hired through a similar process to the one used for commissioners, with the involvement of public participation.
The task force recommends that returning officers should be contracted on a part-time basis and should not oversee more than one general election.
Also, the composition of the Commission must reflect the Face of Kenya at all levels.
“There should be clear guidelines and rules on gender representation and inclusivity,” the report reads.
The team recommends that the current electoral system be reformed to ensure it is simple, accurate, verifiable, secure, accountable and transparent, as mandated by Article 86 of the Constitution.
The BBI task force was established following President Kenyatta’s March 9, 2018, handshake with Odinga to operationalize their reconciliation across the country following the aftermath of the disputed 2017 election.