Saturday, June 23, 2012



By Doc Odotte
Jun 23 2012
New Jersey,USA

In the back drop of the recent public vociferation over the Parliament’s move to amend the Elections and Political Parties Act, I have been riffling through the applicable articles of the constitution and the operational sections of the Elections Act 2011 just to civilize myself on the subject.

At the center of the outrage, is the moral oppugn of whether MP’s should be allowed to change Section 22 (1) (b) of the Elections Act 2011 which states in part that..

A person may be nominated as a candidate for an election under this Act only if that person—
..holds a post secondary school qualification recognised in Kenya.

The guiding principle for this law is found on Article 99. (1) (b) which states in part that… Unless disqualified under clause (2), a person is eligible for election as a member of Parliament if the person ..
-satisfies any educational, moral and ethical requirements prescribed by this Constitution or by an Act of Parliament;

Many of the voices against this amendment have fixed the academic threshold as “the attainment of a university degree”, effectively ruling out other tertiary education levels such as vocational and technical trainings that qualify under the definition of "post-secondary school"

But, these are just semantics; let’s make a customary layover through articles on Chapter 4 (Bill of Rights) which in my opinion is the glue that holds the whole Constitution together

Article 27 (3) under the Bill of rights states in part that… Women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres.

Article 38 (3) under the bill of rights states further that

Every adult citizen has the right, without unreasonable restrictions —
(a) to be registered as a voter;
(b) to vote by secret ballot in any election or referendum; and
(c) to be a candidate for public office, or office within a political
party of which the citizen is a member and, if elected, to
hold office.

It is true that the complex nature of legislative responsibilities postulates certain imperatives on the legislators in order to qualify them as being competent enough for the job

These imperatives should however not be legislated; they should be dictated by the free will of the people through the voting process. Imposing academic standards that are not necessarily accessible and achievable to all citizens is discriminatory and inconsistent with both chapter 27 and champed 38 under the bill of rights which guarantees equal political opportunity and right to be a candidate for public office within the legislature.

In my opinion, 38(3)(a) confers every adult citizen a right to be registered as a voter, just the same way 38(3)(c) does to be a candidate for public office, unreasonable restrictions, not withstanding..

Let us also be reminded that among the leaders we have in Parliament now, it is the ones with all the esteemed academic credentials that we have the most problems with.

The public is paranoia toward the tax evading, corruptible, self-serving cabal of parliamentarians is quite justifiable, but let us be wary of a provision that sets the trend for a technocracy in place of a democracy, because if this law was passed in 1963, Tom Mboya would miss the cut…

The other part of the proposed amendment on the Political Parties Act touches on the idea of Party hoping. I have not studied the provisions in detail, but there is also a legitimate argument to be made that most of these political parties are brand new and therefore have not set a robust system of democracy within their nomination process.

We learnt in 2007 that the general elections for Parliamentary contests in the so called stronghold regions, is simply a lame duck process

There needs to be a process whereby competition at the general election level is fostered in areas that are overwhelmingly tilted toward a specific Party. In my home constituency, once a candidate gets past the ODM nomination process, the rest of the journey becomes a walk in the park.

Party hoping allows some of the candidates who have genuine complaints about irregularities at the Party nominations to take a second shot..