Former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has called on politicians to keep off election management if they want to foster free, fair and credible elections.
Mutunga said political meddling was to blame for bungled elections.
“For truly independent electoral commission to emerge, the political class needs to drop its practice of capturing and enslaving the commission- rendering it incapable of discharging its mandate,” he said at the launch of the post-election evaluation report yesterday.
“The political class wrongly sees itself as ‘owning’ every space, initiative, or decision in the country, a false ‘political class as sovereign’ notion that precipitates overreach and disregards the constitutive and operational autonomy of independent institutions such as IEBC, and even the Judiciary,” he said.
Mutunga explained that the creation of independent institutions was meant to cure political class mischief.
He said meddling and bullying by the political class denied institutions the independence to deliver. “And when those institutions fail because of such political infiltration, we turn around and blame them – and disband them. Then the silly cycle begins afresh with another predictable silly result! Our political class must be self-respecting enough to allow independent institutions to work.”
The retired CJ called on Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to be competent, impartial, and fair with high sense of accountability.
He said there was a need to protect the vote both at party primaries and general elections to curb the emerging and rapidly entrenching notion that voters no longer decide who their leaders are.
According to him, leaders are decided either by party barons, manipulated electoral management agency, or by the courts.
“In Africa, there is a widening chasm between voting and counting – an irony of literacy where peasants (most voters) know how to peacefully cast their ballots during the day, but graduates and computers (presiding and returning officers) forget how to count on election night.
“There is urgency in changing this perception and/or reality and reclaim and reaffirm public faith in electoral politics. The IEBC has an oversized role in this regard, but only if it conducts itself competently, credibly and fairly,” he said and called for an enlightened political leadership and engaged citizen.
To guarantee independence of IEBC, its operations he said must be de-linked from any executive, legislative or foreign control.