It is now clear and evident that the current Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners are one and a half steps out of office.
This was after a deal to give them a “decent” sent off was brokered on Friday making it evident that the next general elections will be conducted by a new team of commissioners.
Kenyans from several quarters celebrated. They sang, danced and took drinks to the news. As I watched them celebrating, it reminded of the famous novel of the ‘African Laughter’ where poor Africans in the Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, laughed at the rich white men who were busy ‘stealing’ from them. In the book, the laughter is described as the ‘the laughter of the poor’ who were laughing at their own poverty as the rich took away the little they had.
Some Kenyans are celebrating that the IEBC commissioners have gone. Yes. It is true they have gone. But not cheaply. The men and women at the helm of the electoral body are exiting ‘expensively’ and all the expenses for their ‘decent’ send-off are being funded by the ‘celebrating poor man on the streets’.
The current, or call him the outgoing IEBC chairman, Isaack Hassan will be taking home 33.1 million shillings including 12.9 million shillings that he would have earned this year as salaries. The man is also expected to take home 20 million shillings as gratuity, having served for five years. This is the amount calculated as the 31 percent of the annual salary of each year for five years.
The IEBC Vice Chairperson Mahri-Zaja is expected to take home 27.3 million shillings including 10.7 million shillings in salaries plus 16.3 million as gratuity. The remaining seven commissioners are expected to smile all the way to the bank where 22.2 million shillings will be waiting each one of them including 8.7 million shillings as forfeited salaries and 13.4 million shillings as gratuity.
Some people are living on the notion that this money will be ‘paid by the government’ of the day forgetting that they are the ‘sole financiers’ of the government. The truth is that these millions are going to come from the pockets of ordinary Kenyans who are already feeling the heat of the inflation rate which is at 6.36 percent. Already, the Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Henry Rotich, has said that the government will use part of the 5 billion shillings that had been set aside Emergency Fund.
The new commissioners will also have to be appointed. These new commissioners will also have to be paid. In fact, they will start earning their salaries as soon as they are appointed. In real sense, Kenyans will be paying the IEBC commissioners double; one group for working and the other one for accepting to ‘willingly’ and ‘freely’ relinquish their positions at the electoral body.
How it all started
The journey to remove from office the current IEBC commissioners commenced early in the month of June this year.
The agitation was started by the opposition, Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) led by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, former Vice President Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka and the current Senator for Bungoma County, Moses Wetangula.
The opposition called for “peaceful” demonstrations all across the country. People from several counties, (opposition strongholds) poured into the streets calling for the IEBC commissioners to “go home”. More than six people lost their lives, tens others left nursing injuries and property worth millions destroyed.
The IEBC commissioners maintained that ‘they rather die than resign’ the usual Kenyan phrase which was initiated some years back by Amos Kimunya, copied by Anne Waiguru and maintained by many others but all, at one point or another had to resign from their respective positions due to pressure.
Finally, the need for “dialogue” over the IEBC issue was seen important as the agitation in the streets became more and more intense. It was from the dialogue that the commissioners were to be given a ‘decent’ send-off if they agreed to ‘voluntarily’ vacate office.
And now Kenyans are going to make sure that the ‘good old’ commissioners are well taken care off as they ‘retire’ peacefully back to their homes though there is a rumor is the streets that some of them might be appointed as ambassadors to other countries but as I said, that is just a rumor though in Kenya, sometimes the rumor is more truthful that the truth itself.
The next general elections
The next general elections are to happen in the month of august 2017. This, however, depends on the time the new IEBC commissioners will assume office and resume work.
Word has it in the streets that politicians are planning to use the IEBC new commissioners issue to change the next election date so as to increase their term in office. If this happens, will be forced to also pay for that extra time for the hundreds of Members of Parliament, Senators, Governors and thousands of Members of County Assemblies.
This seems eminent given that the political parties want to take part in the selection process of the commissioners, and as we know, with the Kenyan politics, it is all about self-interests.
How much the taxpayer spends on general elections in Kenya
To conduct the next general elections scheduled for August 2017, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission said that it needed 30 billion shillings. The commission said that the was the amount that would enable it to appropriately conduct the coming general elections. The commission also asked for an additional two billion shillings in order to conduct what it termed as massive voter registration.
Before the 2013 General Elections, the IEBC wanted the treasury to give them 35 billion shillings for it to effectively conduct the then elections. The commission first received 17.5 billion shillings which the same commission said that was only meant for an anticipated runoff. After the 2013 General Elections, the taxpayer had spent 26 billion shillings where it was said that 9 billion of it came from donors.