Vote-rigging claims in the last election disturbing

Friday, March 18th, 2022 00:00 | By
Wafula chebukati-presidential aspirants
IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati. PHOTO/Courtesy

Twice in as many months, leading political lights have come forth to make statements to the effect that the elections that brought the current government into power, may have not been the clear victory that it has been made to be these past four or so years. 

Of course, the opposition has always maintained that they did not trust the outcome of the 2017 elections and that is why they went to court in the first place and boycotted the subsequent rerun. The Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has always maintained that the elections were free and fair and that the results reflected the will of the Kenyan people. To be fair to the elections body some of its members dissented and left the organization in protest.

The public has heavily invested in IEBC, advancing to the organisation the necessary resources to deliver an effective free and fair elections that reflects the will of the people. IEBC claims to have done just that.

It has been four years during which so much has happened in the country. A semblance of stability has come into government; claims to the contrary notwithstanding. There are signature projects that define this administration. Nairobi, for example, looks like one big construction site, what with all the infrastructural developments currently in place. 

While some political candidates have suggested that this administration has failed to deliver on key projects, it is obvious that there is a tinge of dishonesty in the claims. 

The statements of rigging the elections in favour of the ruling party during the last election are undoubtedly disturbing given the certainty with which they are made. Can IEBC continue to maintain the cleanliness of their delivery of the elections when participants in those elections, players that were not standing by the ringside but rather right inside the ring, are issuing statements to the contrary?

How IEBC responds to these statements is critical. The body’s response stands between the confidence that Kenyans can have in the elections and the option of growing crisis of confidence whether the same body, IEBC, can be trusted to deliver clean elections in 2022.

If indeed the elections were rigged as these speakers claim, and it turns out that IEBC did not even have an idea that this was the case, then it is safe to conclude that IEBC sleepwalked to the elections in 2017 and there are no indications that they have woken from the slumber. If per chance they knew that the elections were rigged yet they maintained the charade that they delivered free and fair elections, then IEBC simply lacks credibility to oversight any elections and should have been disbanded and a credible organisation instituted to manage subsequent elections.

But it could get worse. Suppose the claims are true, and the elections were not only rigged, but IEBC was part of the rigging machine, then turned around to claim that the elections were free and fair, then how can they ever be trusted to run any elections?

There are challenges though. IEBC has, in the first case, summoned the speaker who is expected to defend herself. In the second case the IEBC is supposedly studying the statement before it decides whether to summon the speaker or not. Whatever the case, what credibility would IEBC have to preside on these matters?

If per chance, indeed the elections were not free and fair, and as these politicians have submitted, the IEBC was alive to these facts, then how can IEBC be trusted when these individuals are summoned, for it to be fair in prosecuting the cases? Would IEBC not be equally in the dock?

These statements may have been made in the heat of the campaigns, but they have huge implication on the credibility of IEBC as an election management organ. Can IEBC be trusted, first to prosecute these politicians and secondly to run the elections? What a time to bring the credibility of IEBC into question. We are only months to the elections and the organisation set to manage the elections seems to have questions to answer. It is a tragedy.

 — The writer is the dean, School of Communication, Daystar University

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