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ELECTION 2022

Aspirants face hurdle as integrity checks tighten

COUNTIES
By - | Jan 6th 2013 | 5 min read

By Juma Kwayera

Presidential candidates face an acid test in proving they have the right credentials to lead the country.

Although the integrity test covers all candidates seeking public offices, attention is focused more on the presidential candidates, who must fulfil the requirements of Chapter Six (Leadership and Integrity Act 2012) of the Constitution, which sets the benchmark for the next Government.

Supported by ordinary Kenyans, the stringent principles have also been confronted with doubts if they would meet the expectations of the electorate or it is a monster that would return to haunt high office seekers, says Martin Oloo, a law lecturer at the University of Nairobi.

Dr Oloo of the Kenya School of Law, while acknowledging the positive intentions of vetting elective public office seekers, says the manner the process is handled is q potential minefield that could be counterproductive as there is no clear-cut mechanism of executing it.

Potential roadblocks

The close-ended questions in the self-declaration forms prepared by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission are a potential roadblock to high office seekers. The design of the integrity test is open to cheating, but such a move would be disastrous if the information is going to be checked against the National Intelligence Service, which does background checks.

 

On paper, the integrity and ethical questions are a walkover, as some of the aspirants say. The catch, however, is in the details, which require candidates to qualify their responses if they are in the affirmative.

The candidates must qualify their answers with regard to criminal record, abuse of office and pending court cases.

 

It will also be interesting to know how the presidential candidates will respond to the questions: Have you ever abused a public office? Have you ever misrepresented information to the public? Have you ever engaged in wrongful conduct while in the furtherance of personal benefit?

 

The leading candidates will have to account for the huge tracts of land, some of which have active court cases.

 

There are the questions: Have you ever misused public resources? Have you ever discriminated against anyone on any grounds other than as provided for under the Constitution or any other law? Have you ever falsified official or personal records? Have you ever been debarred or removed from the register of members of your professional organisation? Some candidates have pending cases about how they falsified land title deeds.

 

NCIC report

A report by National Cohesion and Integration Commission accuses some candidates presiding over offices that discriminated against other communities.

It would also be interesting to know what Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi, Martha Karua, and Peter Kenneth will explain their affirmative responses to: Have you ever been dismissed from employment on account of lack of integrity?  If you have been a public officer, have you ever failed to declare your income – assets and liabilities – as required under the Public Officer Ethics Act 2003? Have you ever been the subject of disciplinary or criminal proceedings for breach of the Public Officer Ethics Act 2003 or a code prescribed thereunder?

Have you ever been convicted of any offence and sentenced to serve imprisonment for a period of at least six months?  Have you ever had an application for a certificate of clearance or a certificate of good conduct or for a visa or other document authorising work in a public office denied and/or rejected for cause in Kenya or any other country?

While the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Isaack Hassan is on record saying that unless one has been convicted of the crimes they are accused of committing they can contest public office, legal experts warn the commission could be impaired by inconsistency in the interpretation of the law. Hassan has in the past argued that only the High Court is best placed to determine if aspirants facing criminal charges can vie for public office.

Although it is generally agreed that only IEBC is mandated by law to vet and clear elective public office aspirants, the manner the agency is handling electoral issues is rather too liberal. The International Centre for Policy and Conflict Executive director, Ndung’u Wainaina, wants the commission to uphold the spirit of the law by setting high standards that reward meritocracy, but scoff at mediocrity in politics.

Wainaina’s predicates his criticism on the inconsistency in IEBC statements, which he says are laden with bias. “There has to be a certification mechanism to ensure that the information provided by candidates is accurate. If the information is wrong, how does the commission verify it?” he wonders. Wainaina would rather IEBC sought help from professional bodies and NIS to stop rogue candidates from presiding over public affairs. While a number of presidential candidates have in the past faced charges of corruption and capital crimes, the cases have since been determined. However, the odds are heavily stacked against Uhuru and Ruto, who besides facing charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court  have a string of pending questions on land issues.

Already determined

What would have been major setback for the courts have already determined; Prime Minister Raila Odinga – his role in the 1982 attempted coup – and Mudavadi’s case on Goldenberg financial scandal. Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka’s role in the controversial disposal of the land belonging to Somali embassy in Nairobi has been disposed of, clearing the way for the Mwingi North MP to vie for an elective public office.

Article 99 of the Constitution states in part that an individual “found, in accordance with any law, to have misused or abused a State office or public office or in any way to have contravened Chapter Six” is not qualified for nomination to run.

Although the law says “a person is not disqualified under clause (2) unless all possibility of appeal or review of the relevant sentence or decision has been exhausted,” Wainaina pitches for vetting to be anchored on ethics and integrity.

“Ethics and integrity do not require you to have been involved in crime. The commission is not independent of external influence. A case in point is when Hassan said only the courts can rule on who can run for political office,” he said.

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