Kenya: Chebukati’s 2017 resolve on politicking Cabinet Secretaries haunts him ahead of 2022 general election

Wafula Chebukati in limbo after issuing parallel statements on Cabinet Secreaties’ political campaigns [Image: @wafulachebukati/Twitter]
NAIROBI, Kenya—Polls commission is on a tight rope for flip-flopping on whether Cabinet Secretaries should participate in political campaigns ahead of the 2022 general election.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC) earlier position in the 2017 general election was that ministers were free to politick.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati then told journalists in a meeting with political parties that Cabinet Secretaries were free to campaign.

This was at the height of complaints by ODM leader Raila Odinga’s National Super Alliance over CSs who were campaigning for President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The IEBC chairman at that time said Cabinet Secretaries were exempted from the law against the political campaigns by civil servants.

“They can propagate party activities,” Chebukati said adding that the commission would only pounce on civil servants who breached the rule.

The IEBC, however, now says Cabinet Secretaries should keep off the 2022 politics ‘as their neutrality would be diminished.”

Chebukati in response to William Ruto-led UDA, said the law prohibits state and public officers to uphold political neutrality,” the November 5 letter reads.

He argued that section 23 of the leadership and integrity Act, 2012, which gives CSs and CECs a lifeline to engage in political activity, is not sufficient.

“That statutory provision no doubt falls foul as the constitutional underpins under chapter six of the constitution,” Chebukati said.

The new take has elicited concerns of doublespeak on the part of the commission, with more questions on why IEBC copied the communication to diplomats.

Lawyers and politicians are split on whether Cabinet Secretaries should stay away from the campaign trail.