By Peter Opiyo and Alex Ndegwa
With Parliament and Cabinet slowly but unwaveringly relaxing measures that could have raised the bar for those elective offices, attention is slowly shifting to the Judiciary.
This is because despite it being a separate arm of government, the Judiciary enjoys a growing reputation that it is finally firmly on the reform path and is the bastion of progressiveness. But even more importantly, it is the neutral arbiter set out by the Constitution if and when the spirit and letter of the laws promulgated in the 2010 national referendum are betrayed.
Already, outrage has greeted the Cabinet’s deliberate and systematic removal of stringent measures that should have raised the bar for those seeking leadership positions.
Members of Parliament have removed clauses in several Acts of Parliament ostensibly to shield those with questionable records and it appears only the Judiciary can save the country when the country’s protests turn to it for interpretation and direction.
The MPs have systematically removed provisions in the Elections and Political Parties Act, the latest being an attempt to lower the integrity thresh-hold requiring that all public office seekers be vetted.
Instead of undergoing vetting by established institutions, the MPs now want the threshold to be lowered so that they can only tick ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on declaration forms to affirm if they have been involved in any malpractice.
In the new order, brought about by the current Constitution, Kenyans expected a watertight law that would herald a new breed of leadership, high on moral standards and clean on the criminality gauge, but the Cabinet has flushed this dream down the drain.
It doesn’t make matters better, for the same politicians whom the law targets, are the ones on whose shoulders the public has heaped their hope of salvation from the watered down Leadership and Integrity Bill (2012) when it comes up for debate in Parliament.
The Bill, tabled in Parliament last week, fails to establish a vetting process for persons seeking election to public office required to enforce ethical and moral requirements spelt in Chapter Six of the Constitution.
Law Society of Kenya (LSK), Transparency International-Kenya (TI-Kenya) and the Commission for Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) have lashed out at the Executive for watering down the Bill and urged MPs and the public to resist this move.
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