Parties oppose law for MPS to have degrees


Opposition parties have rejected a proposed law seeking to make it mandatory for aspiring MPs to have a university degree as minimum qualification.

Amani National Congress (ANC) and Wiper Democratic Party have termed the legislation unconstitutional and discriminatory saying it amounts to suppression of democracy.

The two parties now want the recommended law dropped because “it defeats the rules of natural justice and democracy.”

They held that it was untenable and should not be used as a measure of one’s leadership skills as uneducated politicians have in the past proven their ability to lead.

“Wiper is opposed to the law barring political aspirants from vying for various posts in 2017 due to their educational qualifications,” Wiper Chairman David Musila told a press conference in Nairobi this week.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has proposed amendments to the Elections Act to raise the bar for academic qualifications required for candidates seeking parliamentary seats starting from the next General Election.

According to the proposed regulations, those vying as Members of Parliament must be holders of at least a bachelor’s degree from a recognised university. Those seeking County Assembly seats are required to have diploma certificates.

But ANC says the law must be put on hold to allow political parties and Kenyans to agree on the extent of the leaders they want to elect.

“This debate has been prolonged and if I remember there was an amplitude test that was carried by the Defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) and a total of over 16, 000 aspirants came for the same test. ECK did not succeed,” Musalia Mudavadi said during an interview at his Amani offices.

“We must not underestimate the kind of leaders we had before and going forward we need to have ideal legislation,” he added.

Mudavadi said that high qualifications proposed in the law should not be the only necessity for leadership.

Currently, only the President, Deputy President, Governors and Deputy Governors are required to hold a degree from a recognised university as per the Elections Act.

Senator Musila told IEBC not to rush to make decision which even the constitution and county  government Act do not specify, citing the  academic qualifications for MCAs.

“I believe leadership is a calling someone receives and so the idea of academic qualification do not determine a person’s ability to be a leader. This law is retrogressive and discriminatory,” said the Kitui senator.

Parties interested in becoming MCAs will need a post-secondary diploma, at least, to contest in the next election, and a degree for the 2022 poll.

The move aims to improve the quality of leadership for leaders who have been accused of passing substandard laws and not grasping basic principles of devolution, economics and finance.

On his part, The Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka told parliament to act in good faith and not to pass the law.

Mr Musyoka said as much as education is not the only factor for good leadership, it would be ironical to place so much value on it.

“Leadership has many qualities and if you put these qualities in terms of education, you will miss other things because as a leader, it is about the willingness to serve,” the Wiper Party leader said.

Last week, MPs voted to pass the Bill, but it appears members lack the courage to pass such a law as MPs were absent for the next stage that would make the Bill become law.

Insider sources say the legislators are looking at the Bill as shooting themselves in the foot.

But Majority Leader Aden Duale has asked politicians not to panic saying the law will take effect in 2022 and not apply for the 2017 polls.

A similar law was passed prior to last elections in 2013 but MPs later amended it to remove the degree requirement ahead of the elections.

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