Politics and policy
Bid to remove degree rule for MPs rejected
Parliamentary and Senate aspirants in the next general election must have university degrees to be elected into office. Senators and MPs now join the president, deputy president, governor and deputy governors in the bracket of public officials who must possess degrees from recognised universities to be elected into office.
Parliament rescinded its earlier amendment to the Elections Act 2011, which would have seen current and former MPs cushioned from the stringent requirement that demands a minimum of university education to qualify for election as MP.
However, MPs locked out persons without a post-secondary school certificate from holding office as county assembly representatives in the next dispensation. The amendment to Section 22 of the Elections Act effectively bars current councillors without post Form Four education from contesting for county representative seats.
Transport minister Amos Kimunya, moved an amendment to “recommit the contentious clause 22” at the committee stage of the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill to reverse the reprieve earlier granted to MPs and councillors, who do not have the requisite qualifications, to run in the March 4th, 2013, General Election.
Nuh Nassir (Bura) had on Wednesday night successfully moved an amendment to exempt current councillors and MPs from the prescribed academic qualification rule.
They would have been required to produce requisite academic credentials to be allowed to run in the 2017 elections.
The amendment would also have discriminated against other aspirants running for parliamentary and county seats alongside current office holders seeking re-election.
Dr Nuh’s amendment had sought to exempt current office holders from the requirements while subjecting newcomers to the requisite academic requirements. Mr Kimunya argued that while MPs had cushioned their colleagues without requisite qualifications to run in the next elections, the requirements for a degree on the other aspirants should be effected from 2017 to be fair to all.
Cabinet ministers as well as MPs supported Mr Kimunya, saying a higher threshold was required for those seeking to be elected to the National Assembly, Senate and county assemblies as they would be required to vet top officers to hold public offices such as Cabinet secretaries, constitutional office holders and scrutinise budgets at both levels of government.
Ministers Dalmas Otieno, Esther Murugi, Njeru Githae, Mutula Kilonzo, Kilemi Mwiria and Katoo ole Metito supported Mr Kimunya in passing the amendment that overturned Wednesday night’s amendment.
Mr Otieno said that whereas the Executive and the Judiciary, under the new Constitution are implementing serious changes, it would be ironical for the Legislature to downgrade the standards for MPs and Senate.
“There are academic qualifications in Judiciary, which has seen degrees vetted and evaluated with some being disqualified. In the Executive we have set minimum qualification for promotion. In the independent commissions, very high threshold has been set for appointments. Why are we downgrading standards for Legislature and Senate? Mr Otieno asked.
“We need to make comparable qualification in remuneration where there is equal pay for equal work. If you don’t have qualifications, you will miss five years and come when you are competent,” he added.
Mr Githae reminded MPs that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission was trying to allocate salaries based on academic qualification, workload and responsibilities. “It is important to have higher qualification so that MPs don’t lose out because they have no degrees,” he said.
“What message are you sending to our children who go to school? Do you want them to be delinquents,” asked Ms Murugi. Ikolomani MP Dr Boni Khalwale supported the proposal stating that whereas MPs were trying to give serving councilors and MPs a lifeline, Kenyans were opposed to people without requisite education to preside over their affairs under the devolved system of government.
“We want county representatives and MPs who can read and interpret the budget but not people who can be manipulated by governors. Imagine what will happen in a county like Turkana with oil resources and an assembly with illiterates,” said Adan Duale of Dujis.