Lobby seeks to quash law requiring degrees for aspirants


Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

A Nairobi-based lobby group has petitioned court to quash a law that requires all political aspirants to have a university degree.

The group, Sheria Mtaani na Shadrack Wambui, wants court to declare that the requirement is unconstitutional and discriminative for failing to recognise that post-primary school education in Kenya “is not free for all and is not accessible to everyone”.

It argues that the academic qualification, which is stipulated in section 22(1) of the Elections Act No.24 of 2011 and whose implementation will start in the forthcoming 2022 General Election, is unreasonable, unjust and unfair in Kenya's open and democratic society.

Through lawyer Danstan Omari, the lobby group wants court to find that the disputed law gives political aspirants with degree certificates an unfair advantage over those lacking the same.

"Failure for most persons to achieve a university degree in the current Kenyan context is arguably as a result of the high poverty levels which have bedeviled this country since independence as the government and the Constitution only makes free, mandatory and accessible basic education," says Mr Omari in the court papers.

The group is also seeking for a declaration that the law is unconstitutional because it withdraws the sovereign power of the people to choose for themselves their desired leaders irrespective of their academic qualifications.

It wants those vying for Member of County Assembly (MCA) seats to be exempted from the university degree certificate requirement for the reasons that it frustrates the realisation of a free-for-all election under article 38 (3)(c).

Since most aspirants of the MCA position are not university graduates, the lawyer says the recent announcement by the national elections agency that the law will be implemented in 2022 polls has thrown their desires into pandemonium and confusion.

Mr Omari says the announcement has also forced most MCA aspirants to abandon their early engagements with the electorates in preparation for the year 2022 polls. The law was passed in 2011 but its implementation was suspended to allow those contesting in the 2013 polls exempted from the requirement.