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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Should Samuel Kivuitu’s ECK Term Be Renewed?

After serving for a decade, Electoral Commission of Kenya Chairman Samuel Kivuitu’s term of office expires on December 2nd 2007, just 25 days to the general elections. Already, that of his long serving Vice Chairman, Gabriel Mukele, expired last month and was not renewed.

The straight shooting Kivuitu, while saying "he had already started packing his things", has been quick to add that he will not accept a conditional re-appointment and that he had served the commission with integrity and would not be ready to be re-appointed with any strings attached. Mr Kivuitu cannot hide his pride as regards the work he did at ECK, having supervised the 1997 polls and the historic 2002 general elections and the highly anticipated 2005 constitutional referendum.

The appointment or term renewal of commissioners of the ECK are the constitutional prerogative of the President – currently President Kibaki. His fellow presidential candidates in the forthcoming general elections, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka (ODM-Kenya) and Mr Raila Odinga (ODM) have strongly urged Kibaki to retain Kivuitu for the elections to be seen as fair.

Cardinal-designate John Njue, speaking at a church service, has also appealed to President Kibaki to renew Kivuitu’s term so as to allay fears that the general elections will not be rigged. Joining calls to renew Kivuitu’s term were the Law Society of Kenya and influential diplomats such as those of the EU, US and other countries.

In order to understand the heat, it is important to appreciate how critical the post of the Chairman of the ECK is. Section 42A(b) of the constitution gives the ECK sole responsibility in directing and supervising the Presidential, National Assembly and local government elections. The Chairman is further mandated to declare presidential winners and/or declare parts or the entire electoral process null and void.

So far, there has been no government communication published on the renewal of contracts for Chairman Kivuitu and seven other commissioners whose terms expire in the next few weeks.These commissioners are Stephen Mageto, Abuya Abuya, Habel Nyamu, Kihara Muttu, Jack Tumwa, Samuel Manyunza and Rachel Mzera. Is it possible for the government and opposition to have a meeting and iron out differences so that elections can be conducted in an atmosphere free of mistrusts? Can the religious bodies, some of which have already taken sides, spearhead efforts to bridge the political divide? Or perhaps, should commissioner appointments be distributed evenly among Kenya's ethnic communities?

The ECK has 22 commissioners since the Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group (IPPG) made additions to its composition following pressure from the opposition. The IPPG was in itself a gentleman’s agreement between political parties. Originally, the ECK had 12 commissioners but the opposition was allocated 10 additional slots in 1997 following IPPG deals.

Except for Kivuitu, who was seconded to ECK by the former ruling party KANU, the current crop of commissioners was entirely nominated to ECK by opposition parties — DP, Ford-Kenya, Ford-People and Ford-Asili. These parties joined the Government in 2002 and have since regrouped under PNU.

It may be legal, but is it fair for President Kibaki to be an interested party (player) and still retain powers to appoint referees and touch judges (commissioners), something that he vigorously fought against in his days as Official Leader of Opposition ?

Related: Who Is This Man Samuel Mutua Kivuitu?


Anonymous said...



Taabu said...

Phil you wrote

...."So far, there has been no government communication published on the renewal of contracts for Chairman Kivuitu and seven other commissioners whose terms expire in the next few weeks.These commissioners are Stephen Mageto, Abuya Abuya, Habel Nyamu, Kihara Muttu, Jack Tumwa, Samuel Manyunza and Rachel Mzera. ...."

Is that the truth presently or this was from elsewhere and already overtaken by events? E-cop thinks Kumekuchans are being misinformed. What do you have to say? Over to you pronto.

Phil said...

Me thinks e-cop micro proof reading is bordering on vendetta. Looks like a grudge is hatching here.

Close scrutiny of my posts shows e-cop avoids the essence and dwells on select words. Check my ‘Kalonzo Imminent Defection’ post (selected maths didn’t add up), or ‘Opinion Poll’ post (selected anti-Gema) to see what I mean. Even those posts I choose to participate in as a commentator, my comments draws more condemnation than the posts themselves. I wonder WHY? Take Chris’ post about Raila’s possible shift of constituency for example. Chris directed a specific question at me. I gave my personal opinion. My comments gave numerous reasons why I thought this alleged Raila shift was not possible, but then at the end of the day, e-cop and others picked out my ECK regulations comment. (By the way soon as I get copy of those regulations I shall (cut & paste) re-post them here). Another example, Chris’ post about young leadership and my comment about 8-4-4 and the young chairmen that messed the KFF. As someone who publishes EPL results here each week (it should not be assumed that we do watch some of those matches live), I expected a comment about young KFF chairmen, instead all I get is a rebuke about 8-4-4. You want more examples? There’s many others. The thing is; my research about proving a point could be erroneous, but does it really change the message on the post or make e-cop ignore it entirely? After all, we all know the so called mainstream media houses in Kenya regularly and cleverly copy paste articles from right here at Kumekucha. And a good example is my post about ‘Gema versus the rest of Kenya’ posted on 06/Nov/07. That article was cleverly re-worded in the Standard’s headline article the following day on 07/Nov/07. Where was e-cop to say it was copied from elsewhere?

Makau obviously misled you guys, I am NO journalist. I have my own political views and I am using this facility Chris was kind enough to provide me. You can choose not to read or comment on my post and I welcome criticism and can put up with insults.

Unless I am mistaken, this so called e-cop mandate is selective. If I am not mistaken, then I have nothing to say pronto. And if my post is wrong? Well to err is to human. E-cop, maybe I should have just posted a single sentence: Should Kivuitu’s term be renewed or NOT?

I have to concur with with Chris: At times, our differences are so petty here on Kumekucha and it is a perfect replica of the differences we witness on the national stage to the detriment of development.

njoro- mzee wa kijiji said...

I absolutely have no problem with Kibaki consulting with fellow presidential candidates and party leaders on the chairmanship of ECK, i absolutely have no problem with any of the present commissioners taking over the ECK chairmanship as is going to happen soon. I regard highly employees who respect rather than fear their seniors and are able to voice their concerns without fear or favour. Having said this, i strongly believe its high time we brought generation change in the ECK, If we are saying the old guards should head home - why should Kivuitu be left behind. This man has lorded over ECK for two terms - he should let others do it. We have kenyans who have what it takes to do it even better. The arrogance the man potrays is beyond comprehension for such an important office. Being humble is a virtue.

Secondly, even if renewed today - it will still be a bone of contention five years from now when whoever in power changes the person. The fact that the man categorically states he needs five years or no less complicates everything. He sets terms. While i agree his departure could bring more polarisation especially with an election that is so close to call - his arrogance sheds away the goodwill. A six months renewal would have been ok - and then parliament could discuss these apointments soberly.

Methinks that the electoral commission appointments require urgent legal review and indeed we need to appoint them one year after the elections. Two years before the elections, the president and the government at large should not institute any change.

We should let the old man go look after his cows and goats in the village. In any case the man has made money and a mark for himself. 10 years is long enough for him to have done successful succession planning in ECK and set institutional structures that cannot be manipulated by anyone no matter the circumstances, and structures that shall leave beyond Kivuitu - the man. If he has not done it in 10 years - he cannot do it in 5 more years. Hope am wrong, i fear am right.

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