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Bill seeks to lock ex-governors out of seats other than the presidency

Nominated Senator Raphael Chimera during previous Health Committee session with Health CS Susan Nakhumicha. [Elvis Ogina ,Standard]

A Bill to amend the Constitution to exclude individuals who have served as county governor from eligibility for any elective office except the presidency within five years of leaving office, has been introduced in the Senate.

The Bill’s sponsor, Nominated Senator Raphael Chimera, says that governors, as Executive authorities at the local level, hold responsibility for administrative and financial management of county affairs.

Mr Chimera states that accountability processes continue even after a governor’s term, which influences their suitability for other elective roles.

“Voters would have a reference point in making an informed choice as to the suitability of a former governor to hold another elective office other than the office of the president,” he says, adding that the Bill’s primary goal is to enhance the rule of law and accountability in exercising public power.

If passed, the law would impact 19 governors currently in their final terms. A previous attempt by former Trans Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito to introduce a similar Bill failed. Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs, and Human Rights chair Okong’o Omogeni cited inconsistencies with Articles 38(2)(a) and 38(3)(c) of the Constitution safeguarding individuals’ rights to freely vie for elective office.

Mr Omogeni stressed that the fundamental rights provided for in Article 38 could only be amended through a referendum as stipulated in Article 255(1)(e).

Omogeni pointed out that advanced jurisdictions such as the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Australia lack comparable restrictive provisions. Consequently, the committee resolved to advise former Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka against accepting or publishing the legislative proposal as a Bill.

Last month, the Senate Directorate of Governance and Accountability Committee warned of potential conflict of interest if ex-governor sat in oversight committee.

The directive followed the appearance of Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii over audit queries relating to 2017 to 2022 when Senator Jackson Mandago was governor.

“The Senate Public Accounts Committee should make a determination as to whether Senator Mandago should appear before the committee and if he appears whether he should participate in the committee’s deliberations,” read the advisory.

The committee was considering the report of the Auditor General on the County Executive of Uasin Gishu for the financial year 2019/2020, which revealed inaccurate revenue collection, unconfirmed inherited assets, and unproven expenditures.

“The County Executive Committee failed to confirm payments to County Assembly members. It failed to provide documents proving payments to the Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Unit. It recorded unsupported scholarships and other educational benefits and failed to disclose its pending Bills,” read the report in part.

The report showed that former Governor Mandago was responsible for policy and strategic direction of the county for the year in question, and it appeared that some of the areas to be discussed by the committee could present a potential conflict of interest.

Pursuant to Standing Order 208, where a senator is adversely mentioned in a matter under deliberation by a select committee, he or she shall not be present at any meeting deliberating the matter but may appear to adduce evidence as a witness.

The committee noted that although Mandago was not adversely mentioned in the matter before the Committee on County Public Accounts, he held collective responsibility for decisions as head of the County Executive Committee, which was adversely mentioned.

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