Akombe reveals her fear of being poisoned at IEBC
Former IEBC Commissioner Roselyn Akombe has lifted the lid on the infighting that nearly crippled the electoral commission during last year’s General Election.
In a 93-page report which she authored to IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati three months after her resignation, Akombe says boardroom wars at the electoral body had taken such a vicious turn that she feared taking meals served at IEBC meetings.
During IEBC plenary meetings before and after the August 8th polls, Akombe paints a picture of deep mistrust saying some commissioners feared speaking in the IEBC meetings for fear of being reported to the political class.
“One approached the meetings with extreme caution and readiness to protect oneself from either physical or verbal attacks, including being cautious of meals served at the boardroom,” says Akombe in the report detailing her experience at the commission.
Akombe further admits to have lied during a press conference after officials held a retreat in Naivasha.
While addressing the media during the said retreat, Akombe said the commissioners had resolved their differences and were ready to hold the elections.
Months later, Akombe says she only made the statement to save the electoral body’s face. She further says the Naivasha retreat never addressed deep-rooted grievances, with directors and Chiloba allegedly resisting attempts to discuss operational challenges.
The retreat had been organised as a fence-mending measure following sharp differences that emerged after Chebukati wrote a memo to IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba asking him to account for a host of failures during the August 8th poll.
Akombe further claims the chair and the commission was set up for failure by being denied staff adding that at one point, she became Chebukati’s speech writer.
“I became the de facto note speech-writer for the Chairman due to limited capacity at the Commission,” she says. “I also became de facto note-taker for informal meetings at the Chairman’s office.”
Akombe’s report, exclusively obtained by Citizen TV, came to light days after three commissioners, Consolata Nkatha, Paul Kurgat and Margaret Mwachanya quit the commission, citing poor leadership by Chebukati.
In the document, Akombe also gave a detailed account of what in her view ailed the commission that adversely affected the credibility of the 2017 General Election and repeat presidential election.
Top on the list were key procurement decisions made especially on the election technology and ballot papers, as well as the power conflicts between IEBC Chair Wafula Chebukati and CEO Ezra Chiloba.
For instance, Akombe accuses Chiloba of keeping commissioners and the chair in the dark on procurement contracts, that were only communicated to them last minute when they had no choice but to approve.
She says that Chiloba and ICT Director James Muhati conspired to handle election technology procurement in secrecy adding that the dominance of Safran/OT morpho, the company that supplied KIEMS kits and facilitated the electronic results transmission ought to be investigated, on their role in the 2017 election.
Akombe specifically points out to the events at the Bomas of Kenya on the night of August 8th when presidential results ceased to stream at 8.30 for 3 hours, with no explanation from IEBC staff and safran/OT morpho consultants.
She wonders why the margin between Kenyatta and Odinga remained consistent after resumption of transmission.
“It is such situations that will forever leave questions in my mind of what actually happened on August 8th,” says Akombe.
The former commissioner now proposes that an independent commission of inquiry to be established to investigate the conduct of the 2017 election and all procurement processes to identify the misses and propose corrective measures.
She also recommends a review of the IEBC structure to resolve the two power centres of CEO and the chairman, by empowering the chair into an executive chairman while the position of CEO should be abolished.
Such a chairman Akombe says should have veto powers where he can overturn decisions of other commissioners if deemed necessary.
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