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Chebukati’s turn on electric chair

Kenya has its fair share of hot seats. But none comes hotter than the electoral commission chair. Actually, it should be re-named the electric commission chair. One Wafula Chebukati must have felt the heat this week.

If he had been a regular lawyer with lukewarm political ambitions before, that changed dramatically on January 20, 2017 when he was sworn in to assume office as chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

And if Chebukati has been on a honeymoon for the past six months, it abruptly ended this week with the eruption of the ballot papers saga, where his commission is being accused by Opposition Nasa of awarding the printing tender to a company which, they allege, has gone to bed with their rivals in Jubilee.

For the next 50 days or so, the electric chair is expected to get even hotter as the politicians in the hotly contested election see real and imagined schemes to deny them access to, or bundle them out of, power.

But the ultimate heat will be on election day when Chebukati will either go down in history as a successful election referee or join the growing heap of ashes of his processors who could not survive the extreme heat of the chair.

In the ashes are the careers, reputations and legacies of his predecessors Zacchaeus Chesoni, Samuel Kivuitu and Issack Hassan. They came, they sat, they got severely burned.

The phrase “choices have consequences” was a popular refrain in the 2013 General Election. But no one understands the import of this warning than the head of a Kenyan electoral commission.

And no, it has nothing to do with how our votes impact on our lives for the next five years. “Choices have consequences” has a personal meaning to anyone who chooses to sit on that ultra-hot seat called the electoral commission chair. Chebuakati is finding out the hot way the consequences of his — and other people’s — choices.