Last week, Members of Parliament were at it again, this time around not with salary increases but seeking to protect their vested interests with regard to the prescribed academic qualification eligibility requirements and to facilitate political party hoppers.
In a historical night conspiracy, through the Miscellaneous Amendment Bill and in an exercise that can be characterised as a carte blanche process, the MPS moved to exempt themselves from the qualifications as provided in law. The next morning, Kenyans woke in horror and dismay at the turn of events.
True, not all MPs participated in the conspiracy to change the law for self-preservation purposes. In fact, a number of forward-thinking legislators stood up for Kenya and its people and saved the day when they reversed course with respect to the qualification matter.
The provisions facilitating political party hopping remained in the proposed law, and it remains to be seen how this plays out with emerging information that the President may have returned the proposed law to Parliament. Ultimately, it may rest on the courts decision.
As it stands now, existing legislation that demands that the next President, governors, senators and MPs must satisfy the criteria of being in possession of academic qualifications at degree level has been preserved. What then are the compelling issues?
First, we must consider the question of whether a degree qualification matters in political leadership positions that are elective, and why now anyway?
After all, leaders are born and there are several political leaders throughout the world that have proven to be far more successful and transformative than those with higher degree qualifications, some of whom have in turn failed miserably.
Whilst this certainly is a debatable issue, a degree alone cannot be said to necessarily make one a leader. Or does it?
Indeed, leaders are ‘born’ as well as ‘made’ based on empirical evidence now acknowledged based on a series of studies on those who have exercised leadership in varying institutions in both public and private sectors.
It is also now acknowledged that a higher academic qualification, including a degree, increases the depth and breadth of knowledge that allows those engaged in positions of leadership, whether in any capacity including political leadership, to digest and confront day-to-day challenges in matters of leadership.
No position is more critical in the minimum qualification requirement than that of governor given the direct resource management role.
Secondly, yes it is recognised that Parliament is a key democratic pillar; that as an Assembly of the People of Kenya — which comprises men and women who are elected representatives — it symbolises the workings of our democracy.
The dictates of our Constitution, which remains the supreme law and through which the people vest authority to the leaders, expect our collective leadership not to be seen as self-serving.
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