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IEBC: Cabinet Secretaries are free to campaign for Uhuru

The electoral agency has said that Cabinet Secretaries are free to campaign for President Uhuru Kenyatta ahead of the August General Election, despite protests by the Opposition who have called for their neutrality.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati said that the CSs were exempted from the law barring civil servants from campaigning, but warned that he will crack the whip on other civil servants involved in such activities.

“Cabinet Secretaries are exempted from the law (against civil servants campaigning). They can propagate party activities,” Mr Chebukati told journalists after a meeting with 69 political parties at a Nairobi hotel.

BOUND BY LAW

“But the rest of the civil servants are bound by the law and if the reports come to us, we will act. Our enforcement team is ready and will take actions.”

Mr Chebukati also said that there was no way the commission could block a sitting President or governor from using state resources to campaign.

“The law defines what the President, governors can do. They are still in charge of the particular resources they are using (when they campaign),” Mr Chebukati said.

The IEBC chair asked Kenyans to report any civil servant they find using state resources, insting that they could only act on such reports “and not what is in the media.”

The law does exempt CSs from campaigning, a scenario that the Opposition has said was bad for Kenya where the ministers are appointed as apolitical civil servants.

“An appointed State office, other than a Cabinet Secretary or a member or the county executive committee, shall not act as an agent or further interests of a political party in an election; or manifest support for or opposition to any political party or candidate,” Section 23 of the Leadership and Integrity Act says.

OPEN THE WINDOW

The pronouncement by the IEBC chairman opens the window for Cabinet Secretaries, who had been accused by the opposition of openly campaigning for President Kenyatta, to freely make a case for his re-election.

Last week, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga said he will fire all civil servants who campaign for President Kenyatta if the Opposition wins in August.

“(President) Uhuru (Kenyatta) must prepare to leave office with his political civil servants. We won’t allow them to serve in a Nasa government,” Mr Odinga said at the Bomas of Kenya.

Mr Odinga argued: “In a credible civil service in established democracies, civil servants don’t participate in politics. It is wrong from CSs and PSs to be in politics.”

State House had defended the CSs, saying they were only telling the Jubilee government agenda.

“No, they are not campaigning,” State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu said.

“They are merely describing the investments made under President Kenyatta and the impact thereof, and why therefore it is important for the President to be re-elected to continue with the task of transforming Kenya.”

He went on: “For us, it is really a question of accountability. It is precisely because public officers are speaking more that the country acknowledges that Kenya is irreversibly transforming.”