Tuesday, December 9, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Atlanta, Georgia
December 8 2008

Chairman Kivuitu and all his 21 Commissioners still don’t get it. They are refusing to see that they have been stripped naked first by the Kenyan public and now by the Kibaki cabinet.

They still think they can retain their positions in that disgraced institution. This is a clear example of a twisted mindset of a Kenyan public official. No shame is embarassing enough to let them resign. They have to be pushed out by force.

As some commissioners have seen it fit to return some commission equipment in their posession, Chairman Samuel Kivuitu is still hoping for a miracle. He is still busy making phone calls to MPs in the hope that sympathetic MPs will scuttle the amendment on the floor of the House. As he does this, some of his commissioners are busy visiting MPs in their hopes lobbying for the same. Mean while, other ECK employees are threatening to go on hunger strike to protect their jobs once the commission is disbanded!

The activities of commissioners and their staff not withstanding; Minister Martha Karua is spot on in reaffirming that it was time Kenyans brought about electoral reforms, warning that Kenyans should not lose such an opportunity. If the current MPs bungle this opportunity to make a difference; they will have themselves to blame.

As the commission prepares for its demise, there are a few home truths that members of the ECK need to be told. First, there is no escaping the collective guilt. The same employees now crying foul and blaming the fiasco of 2007 on commissioners and their appointed returning officers cannot expect us to buy such cheap propaganda. They were there; they saw everything that happened; some of them even handled relevant information that could have helped stop the crime but they turned a blind eye. None of them thought of the future of Kenya and blew the whistle. They were happy to be in the gravy train. Now is payback time.

As for the ECK; why cling to an office whose boss has decided that your presence is no longer desirable? Kenyans have said no to their continued existence. The international community and the government have decided that the shop be closed. So what is the point of hanging around?

Looking back to December 2007, Chairman Kivuitu and his commissioners must be wondering aloud what hit them! On December 30 2008, they were a bunch of happy guys who had managed to put Kenya to shame worldwide. They aided the rigging of elections beyond recognition. They did such a poor job that at the end of it all, they couldn’t tell who won or lost the presidential race!

At that time, they assumed they were the good boys working for a watertight system. No, it does not matter now that someone told them to commit such heinous crimes. Not it does not matter now that one Amos Kimunya kidnapped Kivuitu and drove him to State House on that fateful day that the lights went out of Kenya. Now it does not matter that he was threatened and intimidated in announcing untallied results. Yes, the entire Commission must carry its own cross to atone the deaths of so many innocent Kenyans and the misery of those still languishing in IDP camps.

Isn’t it ironical that a bunch of retirees like the Kivuitu team could never have had the wisdom to realize that all systems worldwide are the same? That they know best how to use and dump when one’s use is over? That in some countries, the system actually eliminates those they have used to cover up their tracks?

As we await the demise of ECK as we have known it; now is the time for Kenyans to demand thorough and transparent selection criteria for those to sit on the new commission. Let Kenyans demand qualified people with integrity rather than relying on decadent stereotyping such as that one must be a lawyer or judge to head the commission. Desmond Tutu successfully steered the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission without the benefit of legal training while in Kenya, the Constitution Review Commission became a circus when it was led by distinguished constitutional lawyers.

The pain Kenyans went through mitigates for a clean sweep of the current outfit with a caveat that even messengers and watchmen should never again be hired by the new body. They are contaminated to eternity.

Another thing; these commissioners must be barred from holding any other public office in Kenya for life if they escape treason trials or are not charged with crimes against humanity.