October 2016

Nov. 11, 2016 (4 months, 2 weeks ago)

New Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice selected Pending Parliamentary approval

After the Judicial Service Commission nominated Justice Maraga as the next Kenya’s Chief Justice, President Uhuru Kenyatta forwarded his name to the National Assembly for grilling, paving his way to become Kenya’s 15th Chief Justice. The Supreme Court which he shall head has the exclusive constitutional mandate to determine presidential election petitions.

Shortly afterwards, the Judicial Service Commission also nominated Justice Philomena Mbete Mwilu for the position of Deputy Chief Justice. Justice Mwilu is a Court of Appeal judge. She has served in the Judiciary for 32 years.

IEBC select panel takes shape: As MPs resume duties from a short recess, they will establish the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Commissioners selection panel. The panel shall comprise five nominees from religious organisations and four from the Parliamentary Service Commission. Selection of a new polls team became necessary after the current team quit after allegations of corruption.

The list of persons in the IEBC recruiting panel was completed after Jubilee nominated lawyers Evans Monari and Mary Caren Kigen-Sorobit to the panel. Cord nominated Ogla Karani and Justice Tom Mbaluto. The four joined Rev Canon Peter Karanja (National Council of Churches of Kenya General), Prof Abdulghafur El-Busaidy (Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims), and Bernadette Musundi (Catholic Church).

Others are Bishop David Oginde who is representing the Evangelical Churches of Kenya and Ravindra Bhurma for the Hindu Council of Kenya. The Public Service Commission (PSC) will submit the names to the President, setting in motion the recruitment exercise.The IEBC is likely to get new commissioners by mid-December according to plans by the selection panel.

October 7: Stage set for hiring of new polls team: The IEBC selection team advertised a call for applications from qualified people to fill the vacant positions of IEBC Commissioners. The applicant’s names and their qualifications will be published in The Kenya Gazette, two newspapers and on the website of Parliament. The panel shall then consider, shortlist and interview the applicants in public. The panel shall then select two persons qualified for the position of chairman and nine as commissioners and forward these to the President, who will then nominate one person for chairman and six for members. The list of nominees will then be forwarded to the National Assembly.

Jitters about the 2017 Election Plans, Voter Register Audit and Voter Registration: State House assured Kenyans that the government is on top of things with regard to the 2017 general elections. The assurance followed concerns raised by the civil society and the opposition on the ability of the government to meet the electoral timelines. The worries are aggravated by the fact that the Electoral Commission commissioners are yet to be nominated.

Also of concern is that, the IEBC may be forced into direct procurement of election materials worth billions of shillings to meet the tight timelines as set out in the law. Should procurement timelines be adhered to, the IEBC will overshoot the deadline by 10 days. According to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, any Kenyan could go to court to stop the process on the grounds of violating the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, which takes precedence over the new Elections (Amendment) Act, with the former providing for open tendering.

Additionally, the Centre for Multi-party Democracy, a civil society group raised red flags over a section of electoral laws prone to abuse by political players. With less than a year to the General Election, the group raised concerns about the loopholes in some of the laws and wants the IEBC to prioritize crafting guidelines for their implementation.

Further, the opposition Cord spoke against hastened auditing of the voter’s register. The opposition says that the old Commissioners must leave office to the new team to conduct the auditing. Senator James Orengo who was in the Joint Select team expressed fears of deliberate intentions to water down the degree of audit the team agreed upon.

On the other hand, the Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi demanded that the voter register be audited. Mudavadi further said the country should utilise data lying at the Registrar of Persons offices, as the move will save the country of billions of shillings.

Furthermore, the ODM opposition party claimed that the government is secretly collaborating with the electoral body to register voters in government political strongholds. Opposition mentioned the Ministry of interior Security, Huduma Centres and the National Registration Bureau to be largely involved in the alleged secret plan. However, the electoral body refuted the claims as false and insisted that it is ensuring that all unregistered eligible voters are registered nationwide.

Elsewhere, a research conducted by Afro- Barometer revealed that, only 26 per cent of Kenyans have faith that votes are fairly counted during elections. According to the research majority of Kenyans are concerned about the fairness of vote counts, corruption during elections, and the safety of voters during campaigns and at the polls.

Academic Qualifications relief for Aspirants in 2017: Aspirants for seats in Parliament and county assemblies will not be required to be degree holders. The requirement has been replaced by at least a certificate earned after secondary education. Only those who did not pursue any education beyond secondary school will be locked out of Parliament or the 47 county assemblies.

At the same time, concerns about Kenyans being over-represented has emerged in public debates. The debate was rekindled by a team led by the Auditor General which suggested a reduction of MPs and MCAs, in order to slash government spending.

Rise of Political Gangs in the Run-Up to 2017: A sudden rise of politically motivated violence and the resurgence of criminal gangs is raising concern about the country’s state of security months to the 2017 General Election. More politicians could be recruiting gangs under the cover of rowdy supporters. This brings the fear of the repeat of 2007. In Kisumu, for instance, police had to fire in the air after youth stormed the County Assembly to stop what they said was a secret impeachment plan against Governor Jack Ranguma. In Murang’a , rival groups — one, with well-built members clad in black suits — clashed over the opening of parallel Jubilee Party offices in Kandara. In Dandora residents say a new gang known as “Sila” is increasingly being used by politicians. In Western Kenya, there is a resurgence of Marachi Republican Council, Mossad, Bulanda Boys and the Men in Black. In Mombasa there is Wakali Kwanza and Wakali Wao gangs. ODM rewards registered party members: ODM embarked on a massive voter mobilisation and dishing out cash to the newly registered members. In the plan, wards with the highest number of registered party members will be rewarded with Sh1 million. To set the pace, Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma donated Sh1 million to be given to the ODM ward office with highest number of registered voters. The cheque was presented to Mombasa governor and ODM deputy party leader, Hassan Joho, at the Christ is the Answer Ministries (CITAM) in Kisumu town. The mobilisation comes at a time when the National Registration Bureau has reported that over 60,000 ID cards have not been collected from various registration bureaus across former Nyanza province.

Kenya scales the charts on governance despite corruption challenge: A Mo Ibrahim Foundation report has shown that Kenya has improved in governance over the past 10 years. Kenya is ranked 12th out of 54 countries in overall governance, with a score of 59 per cent, a 5.1 improvement.

These findings are startling given Kenyan’s reluctance to prosecute leaders implicated in corruption. A case in point is the fact that the IEBC commissioners exit office without a word from the Director Public Prosecutions. This is even after he received a file from The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission on the “Chicken gate” scandal. In the file, recommendations for prosecutions were made on the former CEO and three other junior officials at the IEBC. The same file exonerated officials who were largely mentioned in a London case which secured convictions. In fact, the commissioners signed a deal to vacate after they were given sizeable send-off package.

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