Monday, March 30, 2009



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
March 29, 2009

I am writing this article because I have the urge to do so. I am compelled to share my feelings with Kenyans because our politics has put us on a cliff hanger. Today Kenyans are without an electoral body because of our politics. Had it not been for it; Parliament would have approved one before it went into recess.

Now that young Miller was thrown out by Parliament for a variety of reasons ranging from favoritism to wife battering, Kenya may now ask the appointing authority to be more diligent in its next appointment to avoid the embarrassing situations such as the one we witnessed in the last debate.

It may be prudent for the Parliamentary Committee dealing with this matter to rise above pettiness, party politics and ethnic considerations to give Kenyans a truly respected individual with merit to clean up the mess that the Kivuitu team left at the electoral offices.

After talking to so many Kenyans over the matter, there is consensus that fame, popularity or activism on matters of democracy and human rights should not be part of the criteria for appointing the next chairman. Kenyans are yearning for a solid, properly schooled and disciplined individual to take the reigns at the Electoral Commission offices.

The Parliamentary Select Committee should never for one moment think that a lawyer; any lawyer should be given the job. This job requires more than just being a lawyer in practice or a sitting judge. It needs someone with common sense to know when to say no an appointing authority when integrity is under test.

The next Chairman will be reconstituting the Secretariat from scratch. It will therefore need a well trained lawyer with experience in institutional building. The individual should be corporate governance oriented in order to build and inspire the staff he will recruit to work with him. More importantly, this chairman will strive to reconstruct the confidence of the public in the electoral institution.

To do this, the Committee should go for a candidate with vast experience in dealing with leadership issues on a national and global scale. Such a candidate should have the kind of discipline that is akin to military upbringing such that faithfulness to the rules of engagement will be his guiding testament.

The Committee should look for a candidate with less political baggage to carry. It is that political baggage that derailed Kivuitu and his team. Because they were appointed by a sitting president, they felt obliged to return his favor.

As it is now; the next chairman should be that person that call look Raila, Kalonzo and Kibaki in the eye and tell them to leave him alone to do his work. He should be the one who reads his terms of reference as written in the constitution and sticks to them on pain of death.

We need a chairman who will detribalize the electoral commission and depoliticize decision making at the institution. One way of doing this should be to put in place legal mechanism that will force political party nominations to be supervised and controlled by the Electoral Commission to avoid early riggings at nomination stage. Because once politicians start rigging primaries, there is no stopping them at the national level.

We need a chairman who has had practical experience in building all sorts of institutions whether public or private in order for the new institution to benefit from such experience. We need a chairman who is a diplomatic with vast experience in conflict resolutions; a man or woman who will genuinely facilitate the process of conduct civic.

WE need a chairman well educated enough to receive and interpret intelligence reports accurately to avoid the mess that Kivuitu put us in despite detailed NIS reports that pointed to him the dangers ahead should elections not be conducted in a transparent manner.

We need a chairman that will command the respect of Kenyans across the board; from Parliament to the Executive, from the intelligence institutions to political parties and ordinary Kenyans.

Finally, in the process of identifying this man, let our Parliamentarians not subject us again to the kind of theatrics they gave us the last time they debated this issue. This time round, we need political maturity and well guided debates in the august house. We don’t need hecklers and ethnic leaders derailed an important national debate with endless and sometimes irrelevant points of order.

For this reason, Kenyans must demand that House Speaker Hon Marende be in Parliament in person to control the debate and bring sanity to the house.

On this note; may the best man or woman win the seat!