It's your duty to vet, interview all candidates for elections

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Ballot boxes at NSSF ground polling station in Nairobi. [File]

According to Thomas Paine, an effective leader is one who knows "when to lead, when to follow, and when to get out of the way." 

This applies also to political leaders. It means that a leader who is always leading or always following is not an effective leader and conversely, one who doesn’t know when to get out of the way, is also not an effective leader.

Article 10 of the Constitution outlines the national values and principles of governance including patriotism, national unity, sharing and devolution of power, the rule of law, democracy and participation of the people; human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalised; good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability; and sustainable development.

The same article states that all State organs, State officers, public officers and all persons are bound by the above values and principles each time they apply or interpret this Constitution; enact, apply or interpret any law; or make or implement public policy decisions.

These provide a comprehensive framework for vetting political leaders. In addition, there is the Chapter Six of the Constitution on leadership and integrity which govern State officers.

Chapter six outlines the guiding principles of leadership and integrity including requiring that selection for state officers should be on the basis of personal integrity, competence and suitability, or through free and fair elections.

Further, objectivity and impartiality are required in decision making, and in ensuring that decisions are not influenced by nepotism, favouritism, other improper motives or corrupt practices.

This chapter also defines for us what selfless service entails by indicating that it should be based solely on the public interest, demonstrated by honesty in the execution of public duties; and the declaration of any personal interest that may conflict with public duties; accountability to the public for decisions and actions; and discipline and commitment in service to the people.

Therefore, the Constitution provides us with a comprehensive framework to measure the character and worthiness of all State officers. The definition of State offices in article 260 of the Constitution includes all the six elective positions from the President to MCA and those in-between.

The candidates for President/Deputy President, MP (Senate/National Assembly), Women Representative (MP), Governor/Deputy Governor and MCA must comply with Chapter six requirements, national values and principles and all the other integrity and good leadership qualities identified in the Constitution and other legislation.

All these candidates vying want us as voters to employ them.

This means we are interviewing them for the various seats.

In this regard, as a voter and a taxpayer, whether or not you want to vote, you need to vet each and every candidate to ensure, they meet the basic constitutional criteria and requirements.

If they are people who lack integrity and you know that they do not meet the criteria set up there, why would you vote for them?

Many of the voters appear to support their candidates on criteria other than those outlined above.

Many will support their own because they feel it is their turn to govern or because they come from the same ethnic communities and want one of their sons or daughters in the house on the Hill.

This makes the needs and aspirations of voters, development agenda and democracy, move to the back burner and yet, once the campaign and elections dust settles the same people will start complaining that they are not getting what they hoped for.

It is our responsibility to ensure we vote for the right men and women of integrity and who cares about the needs and aspirations of the people of Kenya.

If we refuse to vote because we don’t like the candidates available, we are actually voting for them by omission; either way, it is our responsibility to vet and vote for the best candidates.