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Bishop roots for strong IEBC, wants Kamba leaders to unite

"We must learn the seasons, we must understand the times: to know what to do, when and how," words by the clergy who are not amused by the way the IEBC is being tossed about from left to right with each passing day.

By Rose Mukonyorosemukonyo@yahoo.comWednesday, 19 Oct 2016 12:08 EAT

Bishop Peter Hunjah, the presiding Bishop at Global Springs of Life, Kenya, during the interview. (Photo: Rose Mukonyo/Kenya Free Press).

After the selection panel to recruit new members of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is sworn in today, the nation's attention will be riveted for weeks on the decisions and appointments the new team will make. The interest in next year's elections is increasing by the day as fears grow that the polls could once again end in chaos.

The issue of concern to many members of the clergy is that the polls body has been exposed to a great deal of political theatrics by players across the divide, who have varied opinions over which individuals should be picked to oversee the next general elections.

In an interview with the Kenya Free Press, Bishop Peter Hunjah, the presiding bishop at Global Spring of Life Kenya has expressed reservations over the manner in which the government has been handling the matter. According to Bishop Hunjah, those responsible for setting up the electoral body must ensure the process is expedited, and granted the requisite aspect of 'independence' in accordance with the Constitution.

The Bishop has challenged the Government to rise above suspicion by the opposition that the unnecessary delay in appointing new IEBC commissioners is part of a scheme to hang on power much longer than the constitution allows. "We have seen past attempts by poll losers to press for the disbandment of the electoral body and lobby for one which they believe will favour them," he said.

The Bishop says the only solution is to create an environment that guarantees functioning of an independent IEBC. That, he says will require  political goodwill which must be shown by elected leaders who have been tasked with the responsibility to represent the interests of Kenyans in general.

The country's electoral calendar could be interrupted by failure to have in place a polls body, and such unnecessary delay may be a recipe for political chaos. Before new chief justice David Maraga's appointment today, anxiety had been building up about the dragging of feet by the State to conclude the appointment which was crucial to the smooth running of the judicial arm and the making of state appointments. 

Bishop Hunjah also believes that there has been unfair play for Kenyans from the elected leaders since as soon as they get into office they start doing their campaigns. This means they don't get to deliver to the electorate as expected and believe that they should be barred from politics just as they did with the cabinet secretaries and only given a specific campaign period. He suggested that parliament should be dissolved as is the case with other nations so that they go into campaigns fairly and equally.

Concerning Ukambani politics, the Bishop has observed that unity has been a mirage. Divisions have permeated the region's politics so much that people move from political to personal and this has been the major setback to development and unity in this area. 

"We have been hit by drought but the elected leaders have become victims of the same quagmire of disunity," he said, and expressed concern that Ukambani has been segmented and has therefore lost direction. He urged the community to vote wisely by asking the people to ensure they have their national identity cards as well as their voters' cards. He warned that failure to vote is equivalent to voting for the opponent. 

The bishop also urged the clergy to get involved in politics because the church depends on direction from them asking them to talk about the right politics and the right leaders, encouraging the masses to give an opportunity to the right people to lead. They should not be barred by religion and should come out clearly and speak about politics. 

Rose is a contributing writer for the Kenya Free Press, based in Machakos County.

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