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MPs told to prescribe who qualifies for elective posts

By Roselyne Obala | October 21st 2021


IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati before the Senate Justice and Legal Affairs Committee in Nairobi on October 12. [File, Standard]

The electoral agency has asked MPs to prescribe the qualifications or level of education for candidates seeking elective seats in next year’s General Election.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati said Parliament must prescribe the qualifications as well as education standards anticipated in law to enable it to uphold its tenets.

The High Court last Friday declared unconstitutional Section 22 of the Elections Act that requires aspirants for the position of MCA to have a university degree.

Section 22(1)(b)(ii) of the Elections Act, which was set to take effect in the next elections, stipulates that it is mandatory for MCA aspirants to possess a degree from a recognised university.

Chebukati, in his submission to the Senate Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee, said, “The Constitution demands that there be some level of education. What this level of education would be was left to Parliament.”

Similarly, Article 99(1)(b) of the Constitution provides: “A person is eligible for election as a Member of Parliament, if the person satisfies any educational, moral and ethical requirements prescribed by the Constitution or by an Act of Parliament.”

The chairman raised the concern when the commission presented its views to the committee led by Senator Okong’o Omogeni on two draft Bills that seek to abolish the contested degree requirement.

Chebukakti opposed the Election Amendment Bill (Senate Bill No 42 of 2021) sponsored by Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, that seeks to confer eligibility to vie on persons who may not have a degree. The IEBC boss said the law requires a level and standard on education qualification for one to vie.

Murkomen’s Bill provides that any individual vying either as MP or MCA is eligible if he/she is able to read and write English or Kiswahili.

In the case of a deaf person, the senator suggests he or she should be literate in Kenya sign language.

“The proposal mirrors the provisions for ‘language tests’ under the now-repealed National Assembly and Presidential Elections Act (Cap 7) that required every person desirous of standing as a candidate at parliamentary election to apply to the electoral commission for a test as to his proficiency in the English and Swahili languages,” Chebukati told the committee.

“Following the new constitutional dispensation, Cap 7 was repealed and the Elections Act enacted to respond to the provisions of the Constitution,” he added.

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