Shock awaits aspirants with fake academic papers

The weeding out of politicians holding fake academic qualifications from the August polls began in earnest yesterday.

More than 10 agencies came together to form a coordinating committee to scrutinise the documents submitted by poll aspirants.

Working under the auspices of the Chapter Six Working Group on Election Preparedness, the team will also ensure that aspirants do not have questionable integrity.

The agencies represented in the committee include the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Attorney-General's Office, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the Judiciary, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Kenya Revenue Authority, the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties, and the Commission for Higher Education (CUE).

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The team told political parties to only nominate candidates who meet all electoral requirements, warning that they would not clear those who fail to reach the bar.

Attorney-General Githu Muigai said the team would rely on an audit report by the Commission for University Education to verify aspirants' higher education qualifications.

"There are many people who have been convicted of criminal offences relating to integrity. We need to have a data base that is available to all these agencies," he said.

Aspirants' academic qualifications, he said, would be closely scrutinised.

Individuals seeking to run for president, deputy president, county governor, or deputy county governor are required by the Election Act to possess a degree from a recognised university, while individuals running for MP and MCA posts must hold post-secondary school qualifications.

"The checklist of integrity contains many boxes, one of which is academic qualification. As the Ministry of Education and Commission for Higher Education demonstrated recently, we have aspirants carrying certificates they have not earned. Therefore, one of the major areas of concern in this integrity testing will be: do you hold the education qualification's you claim?" said Prof Muigai.

The agencies also declared that no politician with integrity issues would run in the August 8 General Election. This, they said, would improve the calibre of leaders elected.

"The collaborating institutions will enforce compliance with the leadership and integrity requirements by aspirants in the forthcoming elections," said the agencies in a joint communique read by IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati in Nairobi.

Also in the spotlight are people who have been convicted of criminal offences relating to Chapter Six.

This development is likely to kill the political ambitions of some leaders, as the team plans to create a data base to scrutinise the details being submitted.

In 2013, some leaders were locked out of running for elective seats because of lack of educational qualifications.

Kapsaret MP Oscar Sudi was last year charged with forging his academic qualifications in the run-up to the 2013 polls.

There are reports that some of the sitting governors, members of Parliament, and members of county assemblies may be holding fake academic certificates.

But it is the quality of the papers that has come under scrutiny since some leaders are said to have graduated without spending the required amount of time required for the programmes.

A recent audit report by CUE uncovered several breaches, including flaws in the minimum admission requirements, missing test scores, abuse of executive masters degrees, and academic theft.

"The collaborating institutions shall give priority to verification of information on aspirants," said Mr Chebukati.

The team will nominate staff from all the agencies to sit at a central coordinating facility at the IEBC offices within a week to kick off the verification process.

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academic qualificationspolitical aspirantsCommission for Higher Education