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Qualifications for a Member of the County Assembly in Kenya

A Member of County Assembly (MCA) or a Ward Representative plays a crucial role in devolution. The Constitution limits the role of a Member of the County Assembly to the county level of governance.

A Member of County Assembly plays three crucial roles. These roles are representation, legislation, and oversight. They represent residents from their wards in governance at the county level. They make and amend laws that affect the counties and oversee the executive arm of the county government.

A Member of the County Assembly also plays a crucial role to advance the role of the County Assembly. That is why Kenyans elect their MCA of choice every five years during the general elections.

For anyone who wants to vie for the seat, there are qualifications for election as a Member of the County Assembly in Kenya. There are also guidelines that are a set of conditions that they must meet to qualify to vie for the seat.

A Member of the County Assembly (MCA) can serve for a term of five years and they are eligible for re-election for as many times as possible because there are no term limits for MCAs.

Qualifications for a Member of the County Assembly

What are the qualifications for a person to become a ward representative? To qualify to vie for the position of the Member of the County Assembly, you must:

  • be a Kenyan citizen for at least 10 years before the election;
  • not hold dual citizenship (unless, according to IEBC, the citizenship of the other country has been obtained by operation of law without the capacity to opt-out);
  • not owe allegiance to a foreign state;
  • be a registered voter;
  • be nominated by a Political Party or is an independent candidate.
  • meet the statutory moral and ethical requirements under the Leadership and Integrity Act;
  • not be a public officer or acting in any State of public office other than a Member of the County Assembly;
  • not be an undischarged bankrupt;
  • not be a person of unsound mind;
  • not be subject to a sentence of imprisonment of at least six months from the date of registration of candidates or date of elections;
  • not have been found to have abused or misused state or public office or contravened Chapter Six of the Constitution; and
  • not have been dismissed or removed from public office for contravening the provisions of Articles 75, 76, 77 and 78 of the Constitution.

The minimum age limit to vie for the position of a member of the county assembly in Kenya is 18 years. There is no maximum age limit.

The educational requirement for one to be an MCA in Kenya is a university degree from a university. This law comes into effect in the 2022 general elections and beyond according to Section 22 of the Elections Act (unless the law is amended before then).

A High Court ruling has declared Section 22 of the Elections Act that requires Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) to have a university degree (in 2022) as unconstitutional. The High Court said there was no public participation when parliament enacted the provision. The Court made the ruling on Friday, 15th of October, 2021.

There are also two laws before the Senate aiming to amend the Elections Act to remove the degree requirement for Ward Representative. Whether these amendments are passed or not, the High Court ruling allows anyone without a university degree to vie for the position in 2022.

The first Elections (Amendment) Bill 2021 by Senator Kipchumba Murkomen intends to restrict the requirement for MCAs to literacy in English, Kiswahili and Kenyan Sign Language.

The second Elections (Amendment) Bill 2021 by Senator Ledama Ole Kina seeks to shield an MCA from the degree requirement if the MCA:

  • does not hold a certificate of secondary education but has served for two terms:
    • one term as a member of a county assembly under the Constitution of Kenya 2010; and
    • another term as a member of a local authority.

Yours truly will update this article in case the two laws are passed.

Requirements for a Member of the County Assembly

A party candidate, an independent candidate, or their authorised agent should submit certain documents to IEBC during the nomination process.

The candidate or their agent should submit a certified copy of a national identity card or a valid passport. The ID or passport should be the document the candidate used to register as a voter. They should also submit a passport size photograph with white background in soft (electronic) and hard (printed) copy.

If the candidate was a public officer, they should provide a letter of discharge from their employer. The letter should confirm that the candidate was not in employment six months to the general elections. This requirement does not apply to those holding other elective seats that may want to contest for the position of a Member of the County Assembly.

A party candidate should submit a nomination certificate from a fully registered political party nominating the candidate. An authorised official in the party should have duly signed the certificate.

The party or independent candidate should submit a duly signed Code of Conduct (Second Schedule of the Elections Act, 2011).

Commission Form 18

The candidate or their agent should submit a duly filled Commission Nomination Form 18, including:

  • An original Statutory Declaration Form (Regulation 41 of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012)
  • An original Self-Declaration Form (Regulation 46 of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012) as prescribed in the First Schedule of the Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012
  • The names of a proposer and a seconder who shall be registered voters in the respective electoral area. In the case of a Party Candidate, the proposer and seconder must be members of the candidate’s party (Regulation 38(b) of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012). In the case of an Independent Candidate, the proposer and seconder must not be members of any political party (Regulation 39(c) of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012).

Additional requirements for independent candidates

There are a few additional requirements for independent candidates intending to vie for the position of a Member of County Assembly.

They should submit a clearance certificate from the Registrar of Political Parties. The certificate should certify that the person was not a member of any political party for the last three months before the elections. (Regulation 15(a) of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012).

The candidate or their agent delivering a nomination application should at the same time deliver to the Constituency Returning Officer, standard A4 sheets of paper bearing the names, respective signatures and identity card numbers of five hundred voters registered in the ward, by a date set aside by IEBC.

The sheets of paper delivered above should—

  • be serially numbered;
  • each has at the top, in typescript, the wording at the top of Form 18; and
  • be accompanied by copies of the identity cards of the voters.

They should also provide duly filled Form of Intention to Contest in the form prescribed by the election regulations. (Regulation 15(b) of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012). In addition, the candidate should provide the symbol they intend to use during the election. IEBC should have approved the symbol in accordance with Section 32 of the Elections Act, 2011.

Lastly, the candidate should maintain a functioning office in their respective electoral area where they intend to contest. The office must be available for inspection by IEBC by a date the commission prescribes. The candidate should communicate the address, including the physical address of the office, to the commission.

Nomination Fees for a Member of County Assembly

An application for nomination for candidature at a county assembly member election should be accompanied by a non-refundable nomination fee, in banker’s draft (banker’s cheque) of—

  • KES 2,500 for special interest groups, that is, the youth, women and persons with disabilities. Youth means an adult below the age of 35 years;
  • KES 5,000 for any other candidate.

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Gĩthĩnji is the founder of afrocave.com. He is passionate about politics and governance, public finance management and cycling.@Afrophi