Man seeks to stop IEBC from barring non-graduates

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati addressing the press in Naivasha, Nakuru County. January 7, 2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A lawyer has accused the electoral commission of secretly seeking to bar candidates who lack degree certificates from contesting the position of Member of Parliament in the August 9 elections.

Adrian Kamotho, in his petition filed at the High Court, claims the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) deliberately failed to specify the qualifications for MPs when it gazetted the election date so as to lock out those without degrees.

“IEBC has curiously avoided making any reference to qualifications for MP candidates thus citizens have been left groping in the dark with regard to the issue of educational qualifications attached to the position of Member of Parliament,” said Kamotho.

IEBC, on January 20, published a gazette notice for the election calendar including requirements for candidates seeking various elective seats, and declared August 9 as the date for the General Election.

Kamotho argued that despite the commission stating qualifications for the other elective positions, it failed to specify the academic qualifications for MPs.

He argued that the move was deliberate so that the commission can sneak in Section 22 (1) of the Elections Act 2011 which requires candidates seeking the position of MP to have a degree certificate before being cleared to vie.

“Due to the lingering confusion and lack of clarity by the commission, there is a danger that duly qualified and patriotic citizens who desire to serve the nation in the capacity of MP may be illegitimately locked out,” said Kamotho.

He added that IEBC’s failure to disclose the qualifications for the position of MP violates the right to administrative action that is expeditious, efficient, lawful, reasonable, and procedurally fair.

Kamotho noted that the High Court, on October 15, 2021, declared sections 22 of Elections Laws (Amendment) Act 2017 which required degree certificates for MPs and MCAs unconstitutional, meaning IEBC cannot again bring the academic qualification as a condition for clearance.

He argued that without disclosing the applicable educational qualifications for the position of MPs, many political parties will be forced to leave out some of their popular candidates who lack degree certificates.

“There is great peril since it is not known what educational criteria IEBC may eventually choose to rely on. Individuals and parties whose candidates will be deemed unqualified will permanently lose out their right to contest during the August 9 election,” said Kamotho.

In any case, the lawyer argued, it is not possible to have only degree certificate holders contesting for the MPs positions given that only two per cent of the country’s 50 million people have university degrees. 

He argued that although a majority of Kenyans do not have degrees, they have other skills.