Okech Kendo: Continued existence of ECK proof of impunity

The presidential election did not mess itself up, the Electoral Commission did. ECK must, therefore, account for its sins against democracy. Absurdly, the commission is moving on as if nothing abhorrent happened last year.

It would be indecent to allow ECK to manage pending by-elections. The electoral institution is disgraced, should be shamed out of office, rather than being rewarded with further assignments.

If more evidence were needed of ECK’s incorrigibility, then the European Union observer mission’s report strikes another nail into the coffin of the institution’s credibility. So does a Steadman study released last week, saying most people believe ECK’s behaviour triggered post-election mayhem.

It does not help matters to claim both parties to the presidential election dispute — ODM and PNU — rigged. If this is indeed true, then it was pre-determined and ECK’s complicity facilitated it.

Because of the muck on its face, not even a responsible village should allow any of the 22 ECK commissioners to supervise its school board election.

ECK chairman, Samuel Kivuitu, and his deputy, Kihara Muttu, are the lead election bunglers. The others are commissioners Jack Tumwa, Anne Wambaa, Jeremiah Matagaro, Mwenda Thiribi, James Njenga, Samuel Ng’eny, Mildred Owuor, Felicita ol Churie, Joseph Sitonik, Anne Muasya, Riunga Raiji, Abdi Ibrahim, Muturi Kigano, Hamisi Dena, Pamela Tutui, David Ndambiri, Rachel Kileta, Daniel Wambura, Samuel Maugo and Shem Balongo.

To allow ECK to supervise by-elections would be further proof of impunity and a slap in the face of the aggrieved electorate. As long as this electoral institution is condoned in the name of political correctness, Kamukunji, Embakasi, Wajir North, Kilgoris, Emuhaya and Ainamoi constituencies, where by-elections are due, will remain disenfranchised.

Kivuitu, who said he would burn with the country, has not shown any remorse for the commission’s breach of public trust. Sadly, ECK is behaving like it is more wronged than the victims of its partial idiocy. This is a breach of Section 16 the Constitution, which affirms ECK’s independence.

It says: "In the exercise of its functions under this Constitution, the Commission shall not be subject to the direction of any other person or authority."

Kivuitu claimed he buckled under pressure from vested interests. He rubbished the raging dispute that triggered apocalyptic mayhem, thus breaching Cap 7 (6), the National Assembly and Presidential Elections Act — Subsidiary Legislation.

It states: "Where a dispute arises over counting and/or tallying of votes, a candidate may within 24 hours petition the Electoral Commission, which shall have the power to order and supervise a count and/or tally as is appropriate provided that the decision of the Electoral Commission shall be made within 48 hours of such a petition."

This law did not insulate ECK against complicity. ECK knew because a disputant called attention to the law.

Because of Kivuitu’s casual behaviour, about 1,500 people were murdered, 500,000 displaced, 300,000 jobs were lost, the economy vandalised, tourism crippled and ethnic animosity entrenched. Because of ECK’s mishandling of presidential election, there is a looming food crisis as farmers who should be working to feed wananchi remain stuck in flooded refugee camps.

Democracy was sabotaged and human rights abuses continue, even as Kivuitu remains belligerent. He is, instead, blaming the media as if the Press were expected to look the other way in the face of electoral abuses.

That it is hard to tell who won the presidential election because of vote manipulation means ECK failed. The ECK commissioners and executives should be suspended now that it has been confirmed they have neither the honour nor the courage to quit. Security of tenure cannot shield criminal negligence.

In the 16 years I have written this column, I have never defamed anyone. But Kivuitu claims this column has lowered his esteem in the eyes of right-thinking citizens. Such citizens hounded him out of Mombasa last month. Such treatment, like ejection from hotels, is reserved for those who, by their own conduct, have downgraded their status in the eyes of right-thinking people.

For as long as we are dealing with the facts in the public domain, Kivuitu and his accomplices at ECK are not ‘defameable’. They lost all esteem they had because in the eyes of right-thinking Kenyans, they breached public trust.

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