Lessons from DP Gachagua's swearing-in gaffe

Noticeably, the deputy president-elect did not have the written oath before him and was thus relying on the oral lead by Ms Amadi.

In the end, Amadi provided the written oath but further confusion came when the registrar misread the order of the oath that led Rigathi Gachagua to read words ahead of the registrar, causing confusion on whether the lead now had to repeat the words already said by the oath taker. The oath was retaken.

It is not mandatory that the form of the oath be preceded by the words: Repeat after me.

Indeed, one may read the words as it happens in other countries, such as the recent retaking of the Oaths of Allegiance to King Charles III by the Members of Parliament, including the Prime Minister.

The Promissory Oaths Act in Kenya does not make it mandatory for an oath-taker to repeat the words uttered by the officiant.

In the US, where the Chief Justice leads the oath-taking, there have also been botched oaths. In the book, The Oath, Jeffrey Toobin reports that Chief Justice John Roberts in 2008 had, in a written copy, marked the places where he would pause and sent the marked version to President-Elect Barack Obama who unfortunately didn't receive it.

Amadi was expected to indicate to the oath takers where she would pause and ensure they had advance copies. The registrar is one of the 22 persons who sit in the AOPC together with three staffers selected by the president-elect.

DP Rigathi Gachagua displays certificate of inauguration at the Kasarani on September 13, 2022. [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]

The legal fraternity in the country is beholden to British traditions that include wearing wigs in judicial functions. It is no wonder that the Judiciary is attracted to the mace used in processions in Parliament and universities. The Kenyan Parliament has used the mace since 1958 when the Speaker of the Legislative Council received the first mace from the Crown Prince.

The presumption is that it represented sovereign authority. Perhaps the Judiciary feels that being an arm of government, it needs its mace to showcase the same during one of its highest duties in the land - to crown the president. The legal status of the mace in the inauguration is silent and should be properly defined to avoid traditions not backed by any law.

Considering taxpayer funds directed to AOPC and the high-profile nature of its composition, a detailed post-mortem should be carried out on the inauguration from the planning that went into it to the conclusion as expected by law. This report is presented to Parliament. It is unclear whether there is a place for public participation in such a report to get feedback from the people who watched the event - with comments above being part of our contribution.

There is a resounding need to encourage adherence to the precepts of the law as outlined to ensure the sanctity of the process. Legislative amendments and administrative strengthening are encouraged to fill and address the few gaffes witnessed on September 13, 2022.