Kenya: BBI Wants Chebukati and Other IEBC Commissioners Vetted Afresh

President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre) in a show of unity with Deputy President William Ruto (left) and ODM leader Raila Odinga, during the launch of the BBI report at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi on November 27, 2019 (file photo).
22 October 2020

Nairobi — The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will undergo radical changes in its management structure if recommendations by the Building Bridges Initiative Steering Committee are approved by Parliament.

Among key recommendations is the reconstitution of the Commission through the recruitment of a new Chairperson, new commissioners and freshly vetted Secretariat ahead of the 2022 General Election.

"The taskforce recommends that we go to the next election with a clean slate to strengthen faith in the IEBC," said the team led by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji which handed its report to President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake partner Raila Odinga on Wednesday.

In an amendment to the proposed IEBC Act, the Taskforce states that vacant positions in the membership of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission shall be filled within sixty days of the commencement of the Act.

Unlike in the past where the Secretariat evaded scrutiny, this time the Haji-led team says all current senior IEBC officers should be vetted by a panel to be constituted by the President.

"Despite Article 251 of the Constitution, within thirty days from the commencement of this Act, the members of the IEBC who were in office on the commencement date shall be vetted to determine their suitability to continue serving in accordance with the values set out in Articles 10 and Chapter Six," it states.

The Report of the Steering Committee on the Implementation of Recommendations of the Building Bridges to A United Kenya Taskforce states that the Chairperson of the vetting shall be a person qualified to be a Supreme Court Judge.

The membership shall consist of two members nominated by political parties, one from the Majority Party and one from the Minority Party, represented in the National Assembly; and two members nominated by a joint forum representing religious organizations while the Public Service Commission shall provide secretariat services and facilities required by the vetting panel in the performance of its functions.

"The vetting panel shall consider information gathered in the course of personal interviews, a summary of the complaints, if any, from the public against the members, as well as their records."

The vetting panel shall within fourteen days of finalizing the vetting, inform the concerned member, in writing, of the outcome of the vetting.

The vetting panel shall stand dissolved upon the finalisation of the vetting.

Additionally, it recommends that all IEBC staff be employed on a three-year contract and that this only be renewed once on condition that their performance was good.

"The titles of senior IEBC staff should be reviewed from Director to a lesser title such as 'Head of Department'. 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 stages," the Haji-led Committee recommended.

The task force also recommends a change in the hiring process of Returning Officers to make it more rigorous.

"Returning Officers should be hired through a similar process to the one used for commissioners, with the involvement of public participation," the report states.

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