The Star (Kenya)

Elec­toral re­forms in ODM timely, but why leave out IEBC?

- BY NJAU GITU Politics · Elections · Raila Odinga · Kenya · Jubilee Party of Kenya · Nyanza Province

Raila Odinga’s ODM party has moved to re­form its Elec­toral Man­age­ment Body, an an­nounce­ment that was a wel­come de­vel­op­ment in the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal process. ere are cur­rently over 80 reg­is­tered par­ties in Kenya, ac­cord­ing to the Regis­trar of Po­lit­i­cal Par­ties.

De­spite the high num­ber, though reg­is­tered, few par­ties can claim to have func­tional of­fices at the head of­fice and even at the county level (if they ex­ist at all). Most of them lack the coun­try­wide reach.

Other than com­ply­ing with the Po­lit­i­cal Par­ties Act, they should also have an up­dated mem­ber’s reg­is­ter.

is ide­ally should be open for scru­tiny by rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers. e bona fide party mem­bers are the only ones legally per­mit­ted to par­tic­i­pate in the pri­maries to nom­i­nate their can­di­dates to par­ti­ci­ate in elec­tions.

Since the re-in­tro­duc­tion of mul­ti­party pol­i­tics in 1992, there is anec­do­tal ev­i­dence that the elec­toral pro­cesses of all main par­ties have been any­thing but sham­bolic.

ere have been sit­u­a­tions where nom­i­na­tion cer­tifi­cates for var­i­ous seats rang­ing from MCAS, MPS, woman rep­re­sen­ta­tive, se­na­tors to gov­er­nors have been awarded to losers. is ma­nip­u­la­tion of elec­toral out­comes is par­tic­u­larly ev­i­dent in the par­ties’ stronghold­s. ere are ex­plicit ex­am­ples that stand out such as the Ju­bilee Party in Mt Kenya and ODM in Nyanza..

e above sce­nario has been repli­cated at suc­ces­sive gen­eral elec­tions since 1997. e pro­mul­ga­tion of the 2010 Con­sti­tu­tion did lit­tle to ad­dress this prob­lem.

e changes be­ing spear­headed in ODM are no doubt the cor­ner­stone of much-needed elec­toral re­forms na­tion­wide.

What in­trigues many po­lit­i­cal play­ers is why the main­stream par­ties have re­mained re­luc­tant in re­form­ing the In­de­pen­dent and Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion. is is de­spite the IEBC hav­ing been de­clared com­plicit in non-ad­her­ence to the Con­sti­tu­tion and the law by the Supreme Court when it an­nulled the 2017 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

e main po­lit­i­cal par­ties, both rul­ing and op­po­si­tion, are cur­rently at the fore­front of push­ing for a con­sti­tu­tional re­view process. is shall cul­mi­nate in a ref­er­en­dum to be presided yet again by a non­re­formed and blot­ted IEBC!

To over­come th­ese short­com­ings in the po­lit­i­cal ar­chi­tec­ture, there are a num­ber of steps that ur­gently need to be taken.

First, is the im­me­di­ate re­con­sti­tu­tion of the en­tire IEBC. is will give time ahead of the 2022 Gen­eral Elec­tion to in­sti­tute the re­quired re­form pro­cesses within the in­sti­tu­tion and the wider body politic.

Sec­ond is to make it manda­tory for all par­ties to sub­mit to the Regis­trar their nom­i­na­tion rules and reg­u­la­tions. at way, they shall be held ac­count­able for any vi­o­la­tions. is shall cul­mi­nate in bar­ring can­di­dates who vi­o­late th­ese rules from par­tic­i­pat­ing in the elec­tions.

ird, par­ties should sub­mit their list of of­fi­cials to pre­side over elec­tions and nom­i­nees for scru­tiny to en­able mem­bers make in­formed de­ci­sions.

Fourth, the po­lit­i­cal party’s tri­bunal should es­tab­lish clear time guide­lines in re­solv­ing dis­putes aris­ing from nom­i­na­tions.

Fifth, there is need for civic ed­u­ca­tion by the re­formed IEBC and the Regis­trar na­tion­wide. is would en­cour­age cit­i­zens to par­tic­i­pate in the elec­toral process as this has a ma­jor im­pact on their daily lives.

In con­clu­sion, the en­tire elec­toral process re­quires a multi-pronged ap­proach by all stake­hold­ers. For cit­i­zens to re­main par­ti­san and then later com­plain about poor gov­er­nance is a clear ab­di­ca­tion of civic re­spon­si­bil­ity, which is en­shrined in the Con­sti­tu­tion. Dr Njau Gitu prac­tices as a gov­er­nance, pol­icy and strat­egy ad­viser. njau.gitu@gmail.com @Gn­jaugitu

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