Are Kenya's electoral agencies cursed? A look at events since the ECK
8 months ago, 16 Apr 16:26
Kenya has held elections consistently since 1920, a process marred by challenges in equal measure. These challenges have left leaders and citizens wounded so it is no wonder that events are still unfolding at the IEBC following last year's presidential elections. Efforts to sanitise the system have seen the country amend election laws and make major changes at the organisation charged with managing the electoral process. One can't help but wonder whether the elections manager is cursed as its officials are often plagued with allegations of misdeeds. Several have left their officers unceremoniously, from as far back as when the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) was in charge. The 10th Parliament did away with the ECK in 2008 after a controversial 2007 presidential election that resulted in weeks of violence. Samuel Kivuitu, who was the ECK's last Chairman, moved to court in November that year to challenge the decision for its disbandment. Kivuitu’s team claimed the disbanding was unconstitutional as a tribunal should have been set up to investigate the wrongdoing in the controversial 2007 presidential election. Weeks of violence followed the disputed the election that pitted Raila Odinga against Mwai Kibaki, resulting in the deaths of at least 1,300 people and the displacement of more than 600,000. Kivuitu had earned a good reputation internationally for the successful conduct of the 2002 elections and the 2005 referendum on the Constitution. The Chairman had served at the commission since 1992, when the late Chairman Zacheaus Chesoni prevailed upon him to accept the appointment. During an interview with Caroline Mutoko on Kiss 100, Kivuitu said with a lot of conviction that tribalism was the primary inspiration for the contest between Raila and Kibaki. “We know the two parallels involved in this election but we can’t say [anything]," he said and defend himself by saying violence was inevitable regardless of who the winner would be. Kivuitu was indicted heavily in the court of public opinion but he hang on to his job. “Never! I cannot resign [because] I will be seen as a coward, which I’m not," he told reporters. “I was the server, not the cook - if at all there was any cooking. If I’m given orders to serve you an eagle and you expected a chicken, then I’m not party to the confusion. I only serve what I am offered - the rest are just stories." Habel Nyamu, Abuya Abuya, Justice (rtd) William Mbaya, Kihara Mutu and ambassador Jack Tumwa were among the 10 commissioners of the ECK. Others were Brigadier (rtd) Reuben Musonye, Philip Gachoka, Samuel Muya, Racheal Mzera and Stephenson Mageto. Kivuitu and his team left Anniversary Towers in 2009, with a send-off package of Sh68 million that was approved by the Cabinet. The commissioners were paid between Sh2 million and Sh5 million depending on years worked while Kivuitu got at least Sh7 million in termination dues. The former chairman earned a gross salary of Sh513,000 while commissioners hired in the run-up to the 2007 elections got Sh325,000. Kivuitu, ...
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