The nomination of former IEBC Director Emmaculate Njege Kassait by President Uhuru as the first Data Commissioner surprised many for the reckless abandon with which he threw his “handshake principal” Raila Odinga to the wind.
The Data Commissioner, a creation of the Data Protection Act, is a powerful position which makes the titular head the “owner” Kenya citizens data. And in Kenya’s increasingly choreographed “open the server politics”, this appointment is not mean thing.
It is not the first time ex-IEBC officials known to have ‘delivered’ Uhuru regime have transitioned to plum government posts.
Former IEBC officials Betty Nyabuto (ex-IEBC deputy CEO), James Muhati (ex-ICT Manager), Praxedes Tororey (Ex-Legal Affairs Director), Anne Nderitu (Director – Electoral Training) among other have all been rewarded with senior state appointments.
However, Emmaculate Kassait appointment will test the handshake considering she was directly mentioned by opposition NASA in numerous court filings and press conferences as among IEBC officials who sabotaged scrutiny of the August 8 Elections.
NASA had threatened to institute private prosecutions on Mrs Kassait alongside former IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba for rigging the election in favour of Jubilee.
By appointing her, President Uhuru threw all wind to the caution. And middle-fingered Raila Odinga. But without a game plan, this appointment can still flop.
Surprisingly, or by design, all the five senior IEBC officials whose conduct fell short of NASA expectations have all been appointed to Uhuru’s government, save for Ezra Chiloba. Even for Chiloba, it is a known fact that he has remained close with Uhuru regime as an informal advisor retained by the Ministry of Interior or by NIS or by the “deep state”.
By this appointment, and should it sail through parliament which is known to rubberstamp presidential appointments with no serious scrutiny, President Uhuru will be emboldened to reward – guess who – Ezra Chiloba!
With a cabinet position, even?
Be that as it may, for Emmaculate, the sailing may not be easy despite the handshake for several reasons, some of which are not of her making but her husband, the conceited Tiaty MP William Kassait Kamket.
Already, the recruitment process which produced her had been challenged in court as tainted with illegalities only for the petitioner, lawyer Adrian Kamotho, to enter into an out of court deal with the state.
He proceeded to drop the suit. Pesa sabuni ya roho.
The Data Commissioner has intrusive powers on private information of citizens and the fear with Mrs Kassait is that she’s amenable to the powers that be. Put simply, she will abuse citizen data at the behest of the state, if her record at IEBC is anything to go by.
With custody of data ranging from the National Registration Bureau, NSSF, NHIF, IEBC, immigration, political parties register and the already controversial Huduma Namba, the data commissioner is expected to be as clean as Caeser’s wife, yet Emmaculate Kassait does not pass that test of integrity.
The country will be waiting to see how Raila Odinga, who blamed Kassait and group for his two electoral losses against Uhuru, will act on her case. While ODM MPs have supported other government appointees with as much tainted past, Emmaculate Kassait vetting is coming up at a time parliament is deeply divided along various interests and formations.
Though the ever forgiving Raila can still whip his ODM MPs to support Kassait, there is no guarantee that all those MPs will toe the line. A number of those MPs have allied with Tangatanga faction of Deputy President William Ruto who may not be particularly interested in assisting Kassait.
Matters are complicated by the fact that her husband, Hon. William Kassait Kamket, is an avowed anti-Ruto MP with a penchant for smirking the Deputy President. And to cap it, he is a KANU elected MP and protégé of Baringo Senator Gideon Moi. Sources in parliament also tell me that Kamket has a very frosty relationship with fellow MPs some who will reject his wife to teach him a lesson. Politics is a petty game.
Those who still care about the ‘face of Kenya’ will dismiss her on condition that she is a Kikuyu, in a government already dominated by Kikuyus in senior positions. Despite being married to a Pokot, her ethnicity – which she has always hidden by adopting her husband’s name – will still be an issue.
Lastly, and this is not far-fetched, the Civil Society may still petition parliament to reject her, picking from where lawyer Kamotho left. Whichever way you look at it, the nomination of Emmaculate Kassait is going to be politically explosive, for she embodies all that’s wrong with corrupt government officials playing partisan when serving Kenyans. Her record is her main undoing.