Opinion and Analysis
Reject attempt by MPs to change electoral laws
Posted Tuesday, June 19 2012 at 18:32
The cost of implementing the Constitution is escalating by the day, thanks largely to loopholes in the document that have rendered it prey to the wildest of interpretations. The latest omission to come to the fore is one which barred State officers from holding two offices at the same time without explicitly barring them from contesting for the two offices concurrently in the first place.
Now Members of Parliament want to change various electoral laws to provide that presidential candidates can run for State House as well as for governor, senator or MP in one election.
While such a soft landing may be excused on grounds of compassion, it has huge financial implications that mean it should not be allowed to pass. The cost to the taxpayer of preserving the careers of political rejects could run into hundreds of millions of shillings. Allowing people to run for multiple offices and to have the luxury of selecting the most glamorous would leave many vacant positions, necessitating that they be filled again through costly by-elections.
With nearly 20 presidential hopefuls already and their potential-running mates also gambling on being elected on two fronts, that would expose the country to several by-elections, assuming that they all win the smaller seats. More significantly, such a law would set a precedent where people running for governorship would also seek to be county ward representatives or any of the other positions being vied for.
In short, the country would be subjected to a mini-election so soon after the general election. With the cost of organising a by-election estimated at Sh40 million not to mention the costs on candidates and the electorate in terms of time, effort and money, a lot of resources would be wasted on just fulfilling the political aspirations of individuals.
In the past, hopeless contestants for local seats have sought to win clout over their rivals by waging unconvincing bids for higher office. This is the deceit that the Constitution sought to eliminate by ensuring that candidates ran only for the offices they were convinced they were suited for and had a realistic chance of winning.
By opening the door for jokers to contest for any elective position, the Miscellaneous Amendment 2012 Bill sponsored by Nambale MP Chris Okemo is pouring cold water on the very spirit of the Constitution.
Politics is a game of timing and pretenders who misjudge their strengths should be made to pay for it by the five year layoff from active politics. It is the essence of the presidential system Kenyans voted for in August 2010 and which Parliament now wants to weaken through the backdoor.