Political drama is fodder for many Kenyans and that explains the heavy political content offered by our media houses. Unfortunately, our political players get carried away in their desire to show their political bravado and keep up the drama a little too long; thereby, sending signals that outside intervention might be necessary to calm their braggadocio. At least that is what some Kenyans including political scientist Professor Bogonko think about the IEBC conundrum.
Prof. Bogonko recently suggested that the IEBC commissioners eat a humble pie and resign with dignity to pave way for a new team to be led by two foreign commissioners. His argument stems from the fact the country has in the past hired foreigners to lead important commissions where impartiality was paramount. It therefore should follow that this could be the remedy for the electoral commission that is dogged with credibility challenges every election year.
The idea to have polls run by foreigners was first fronted by opposition leaders in 2014. The leaders led by Senator James Orengo claimed that management of elections remained a thorny issue so long as a Kenyan was at the top suggesting that non-partisanship required non-Kenyans to manage elections.
It’s quite disturbing that over 50-years after independence we can’t agree on a clear way forward on how to manage our elections. Considering foreigners to manage our polls is practically an admission that Kenya is a failed state. To date only Afghanistan and Iraq are known to have outsourced electoral commissioners in 2004 and 2005 respectively through the United Nations (UN). Other countries that have seen the UN get involved, at least in the managing of elections are Cambodia and East Timor.
That this debate is raging should be the watershed moment both for our drama loving politicians and the IEBC commissioners- who have decided to stay put despite obvious lack of confidence from the public. No truly democratic nation has non-citizens on its electoral commission. Only failed states tend to gravitate to this model. Perhaps our politicians from both sides of the divide that are maintaining hard lines on the matter should really think if we should be in the same league with failed states.
The writing has been on the wall since CORD called for the disbandment of the commission. Politicians need to stop dilly-dallying and make the difficult choice. Luckily sanity prevailed and MPs shelved the report that National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee had cleared the chairman and his fellow commissioners of any wrong. The ball is now in the bi-partisan select committee court. It is time they proved the worth of their leadership. Nonetheless, it’s the IEBC chair and his eight commissioners that are creating the storm in the tea cup.
Surely, if the inter-religious council, the civil rights community, Law Society of Kenya, COTU and a sizeable number of Kenyans are dissatisfied with you, why should you put up a fight? Why should you even let Kenyans contemplate non-Kenyans for the job; like you were born to be commissioners? Why should the IEBC commissioners wait for the Attorney General to advise the bi-partisan select committee that the former should be prevailed upon to leave voluntarily?
Chairman Hassan could borrow a leaf from the out-going British PM who having sensed the change in tide following the Brexit referendum decided to step down. It shows a man driven by conviction rather than ego.
As for the debate to have a non-Kenyan, let’s sober up. We have not reached that point. There are men and women of integrity in this country that can run credible elections. All we need to do is to look outside of politics. And our politicians should also tone down the unnecessary rhetoric lest we end up a failed state.