Kenya: IEBC Now On the Spot for Clearing Sonko's Deputy Governor Nominee

18 February 2020

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is on the spot for clearing Governor Mike Sonko's deputy governor nominee Anne Mwenda without declaring the position vacant.

This comes after Minority Whip Peter Imwatok claimed that Ms Mwenda was cleared by IEBC without declaring the deputy governor position vacant.

VACANCY

Imwatok has questioned why the commission was quick to gazette a returning officer to clear the nominee before declaring the position vacant.

The ODM MCA also questioned whether the IEBC ascertained if the Disaster Management and Coordination Chief Officer is a member of the Jubilee Party, which her boss belongs to.

Mr Imwatok cited a January 9, 2020 letter by IEBC Director of Legal and Public Affairs Michael Goa which admitted to having not received any communication regarding a vacancy at the deputy governor's office.

"On the vacancy in the office of the Deputy Governor, Nairobi City County, the commission has not received any formal communication as to the alleged vacancy in the office of the Deputy Governor other than information in the media," reads in part the letter addressed to Diro Advocates, representing the County Assembly of Nairobi.

However, the letter pointed out that the Commission has developed a procedure for the clearance of a person nominated by a Governor as Deputy Governor and the same has been share with the Council of Governors.

"The said procedure has been applied successfully in the appointment of Deputy Governors in Nyeri and Bomet Counties," adds the letter.

Mr Polycarp Igathe resigned on January, 2018 as Nairobi County deputy governor.

ELIGIBILITY

Nonetheless, Mr Imwatok argued that upon the resignation, Governor Sonko ought to have communicated the same to the Speaker who then writes to the Commission regarding the resignation.

Then within seven days of the receipt of the letter from the speaker, IEBC ought to degazette the pronouncement of a vacancy.

"IEBC has never declared vacancy in the seat, which it is constitutionally mandated to but it's quick to appoint a returning officer to vet another person to fill the vacancy of a seat that has never been pronounced vacant," said Mr Imwatok.

But IEBC Nairobi Returning Officer Joseph Eroo said that the commission's duty is to check the suitability of any candidate to occupy an office using the laid down eligibility criteria.

He argued that a gazette notice is an administrative process and is necessarily not a legal requirement but just a way government entities communicate and so after Mr Igathe resigned and communicated the same to Governor Sonko then that suffices.

"From where I sit, it is not a must that a letter is done to IEBC. We are not the appointing authority," said Mr Eroo.

CLEARANCE

On question on whether Ms Mwenda is a member of the Jubilee party, which is the party sponsoring party Governor Sonko, Mr Imwatok said a clearance certificate must first come from the party and that document is the one to be used by IEBC to clear the nominee.

"I'm aware that Jubilee is the sponsoring party of the current governor of Nairobi .Therefore it is not an independent seat that one walks in to be cleared," said Mr Imwatok.

"And as such, she must first of all be cleared by the party that is sponsoring that respective governor unless IEBC says that the advisory from the Supreme Court said you can pick an independent candidate to go and be vetted by the IEBC," he added.

However, Mr Eroo said they confirmed with the Registrar of Political Parties, which is the custodian of all party records, that she is a member of Jubilee.

"From our side as IEBC, we have to confirm that the nominee belongs to the same party as the governor. We did that with the Registrar and even Jubilee Party confirmed they have no problem with the nomination of Ms Mwenda," said Mr Eroo.

When contacted, the office of the Registrar of Political Parties said they cannot divulge such information referring us to Jubilee Party.

On his part, Jubilee Party Director of Communication Albert Memusi said: "Unless I check for you then I will be able to give you a clear information since we are also waiting for the response."

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