One month after the last election and one month to the next, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is busy. In normal circumstances, the commission would be busy procuring ballot papers and boxes, hiring presiding officers and polling clerks, carrying out voter education and personnel induction. But these are no normal circumstances.
As if it is not extraordinary enough that the country is about to go to another presidential election just two months after the last — following a Supreme Court ruling which nullified the August 8 General Election — the electoral commission is at war with itself.
So, yes, the people at IEBC are busy fighting each other as if the next election will be held around 2032. In the war, weapons ranging from memos, court suits, rumours and leaks are flying every which way. Hardly has the ink dried on a memo in which chairman Wafula Chebukati is announcing staff changes than three commissioners shred it to pieces.
No sooner has an “explain why and how” memo from Chebukati to CEO Ezra Chiloba reached its target than it is going viral on the internet, thanks to a convenient leak.
And just as was the case with the staff shake-up, more than half of commissioners pen their own statement rejecting Chebukati’s memo. As the war rages at Anniversary Towers, the players in the game in which IEBC is expected to referee are cheering and jeering.
Both Jubilee and Nasa have suddenly identified who is their enemy and who is their friend in the commission. Never mind that just a month ago, the commission was supposed to be a neutral player where the chairman and CEO wore no political colours. In about five weeks, IEBC is expected to conduct a free, fair and credible election. But it is a house divided.
Unlike the Supreme Court where judges can agree to disagree and write differing verdicts, IEBC cannot afford that luxury. By insisting on writing wildly conflicting memos and statements, IEBC commissioners could as well be writing the epitaph on the tombstone of Kenya’s young democracy, or worse, the epitaph on Kenya’s gravestone.