Nation’s hopes rest on Chebukati leadership

The drumbeats for the General Election are gathering tempo and vigour with the promise of a vibrant show across the country.

And for the next four months the destiny of the nation rests in the hands of a rather self-effacing man — IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati.

Almost entirely, it is he who will determine whether peace will hold before or after the election.

Mr Chebukati came into office after his predecessor, Isaack Hassan, was ousted on accusations of bungling the 2013 elections.

The commission was embroiled in tender wars pitting factions led by Mr Hassan and CEO James Oswago.

GOVRNMENT INTERVENED

So much time was wasted in the wars that the government intervened in the last minute to procure electronic equipment needed for the elections.

Most of the equipment arrived so late that there was no time to train staff on how to use them.

The result was a catastrophic failure on election day.

That Mr Chebukati is presiding over what looks like a repeat of the 2013 situation, with allegations that President Uhuru Kenyatta and his allies played a key role in selecting the firm to supply ballot papers, is reason for worry.

It raises the important question of the independence of the commission.

BALLOT TENDER ISSUE

But on Wednesday, he reiterated that the commission was committed to a free and fair election and said he had invited political parties to a meeting on Thursday to discuss the ballot tender issue.

‘‘We remain committed to not only creating a level field but ensuring that we address perceptions that may negate this level field,’’ he said at the end of the National Elections Conference in Nairobi.

Mr Chebukati vied for the Saboti parliamentary seat in 2007 on ODM party ticket but lost to PNU’s Eugene Wamalwa.

However, he said he quit the Orange party before he applied for the IEBC top job.

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Ezra Chiloba has previously worked with William Ruto lawyer

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Partnership between an aide of Deputy President William Ruto, Mr Korir Sing’oei, and the IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba before he landed his current job is one of the factors that continues to breed suspicion between him and the National Super Alliance (Nasa).

When they addressed the press on Wednesday to discredit Al Ghurair, the Dubai based printing firm which was awarded the tender to print ballot papers by the IEBC, Nasa principals Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula accused Mr Chiloba of having received instructions from President Kenyatta to favour the company.

Mr Chiloba and Dr Sing’oei – both lawyers – were partners before they went separate ways and the opposition, led by Mr Raila Odinga, believes that Mr Ruto may have deployed Dr Sing’oei to win over Mr Chiloba to their side ahead of the August 8 polls.

CREDIBLE POLL

Such is not a healthy position towards delivering a credible poll, at least in terms of perception. Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati lamented that the dispute over the tender award was eating into their time to organise polls.

When the CEO was appointed slightly more than two years ago, Dr Sing’oei highlighted the magnitude of the work that rested before him.

“I congratulate Ezra Chiloba Simiyu on his appointment as the CEO of the Electoral Commission. Please pray for him as he discharges this extraordinary responsibility to our country,” The DP’s legal adviser posted on his Facebook page on January 13, 2015.

On Wednesday, Mr Chiloba said  he  would not resign in reaction to the call by the opposition that he was conflicted in the tendering matter.

“People have been asking me today: Will you resign? And I ask; why?” said Mr Chiloba on Wednesday, adding he had just learnt about the Nasa statement.

Appointed in early 2015 after a recruitment process spearheaded by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Mr Chiloba is a specialist in electoral governance and political management. He was billed as the best from the interview.

The rise and rise of Muhoho

Muhoho Kenyatta at a past event last year. PHOTO | FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP



Muhoho Kenyatta at a past event last year. Nasa principal Musalia Mudavadi claimed that he is the local agent of Ghurair Print and Publishing Company Limited of Dubai. PHOTO | FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP

Muhoho Kenyatta is the president’s younger brother.

Mr Muhoho has avoided politics and instead concentrated on the founding President’s family commercial interests.

These include companies like Brookside Dairy, Heritage Hotels, Commercial Bank of Africa and Mediamax Group.

Muhoho is the executive chairman of Brookside Dairy and Deputy Chairman of Commercial Bank of Africa.

Born in 1964, a year after the president, Muhoho has led a largely private life.

However, he has emerged as one of the most powerful people in his brother’s administration.

FOREIGN TRIPS
He has accompanied the president on a number of foreign trips, including to the UN General Assembly in New York.

Muhoho is believed to be the man in charge of resources in the president’s re-election campaign.

The Kenyatta family’s business empire has expanded rapidly since Uhuru became president.

Brookside is now one of East Africa’s biggest milk producers after it acquired a number of local competitors, including Delamere, Molo, Spinknit, Ilara and Buzeki diaries.

RAISED EYEBROWS

During a visit to Uganda, the president raised eyebrows when he signed a deal to export Kenyan milk to Kampala and import sugar.

With his family interests in the dairy sector, questions were raised as to whether the Uganda deal was in the interest of the country.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga and some MPs from the western Kenya sugar belt also claimed that Uganda did not produce enough sugar even for its own consumption and that the commodity to be exported to Kenya was imported from Brazil.

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