Kenyans elect a Member of Parliament every five years. Article 1 of the Constitution says that all sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya. The people may exercise their sovereign power either directly or through their democratically elected representatives.
Therefore, the people delegate this sovereign power under the Constitution to parliament as a state organ. A Member of Parliament exercises this sovereign power at the national level. They play three key roles. These are the representation, legislation, and oversight.
For representation, they shall promote the interests of the people who elected them. For legislation, they shall make and amend laws in parliament. They shall also play oversight over the Executive arm of the government and other state organs.
The oversight function ensures transparency and accountability. They also have a role in budget allocation where they play a key role in resource sharing by determining what each government ministry, department, and agency gets.
There are two ways a person can become a member of parliament in Kenya: through election or by nomination (from political parties).
The term Member of Parliament (MP) refers to the Senators, Women Representatives, and Members of the National Assembly. The term also refers to both elected and nominated members.
A Member of Parliament (MP) is eligible for election for a five-year term and can be re-elected as many times as possible since there are no term limits for MPs in Kenya.
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What are the qualifications for becoming a Member of Parliament in Kenya? To qualify as a candidate for the position of a Member of Parliament in Kenya, 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 Parliament;
- 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
To qualify for the position of a member of parliament in Kenya, you must also be at least 18 years of age.
The educational requirements for an MP in Kenya is a university degree from a recognized university. This will take effect in the 2022 general elections and beyond unless the law is amended before then.
Update 1: There is an Elections (Amendment) Bill 2021 currently before the Senate sponsored by Senator Kipchumba Murkomen that intends to restrict the requirement for MPs to literacy in English, Kiswahili and Kenyan Sign Language and thereby nullifying the requirement for a university degree. Yours truly will update this article in case the bill is passed.
Update 2: The Constitutional Petition 28 of 2021 has nullified the requirement for a university degree for members of Parliament (who include the members of the Senate). Section 22(1)(b)(i) of the Elections Act that mandated a university degree is thus declared unconstitutional. “It is inoperational, of no legal effect and void ab initio” (sic).
The requirements for the position of a Member of Parliament are different depending on the Senators, Women Representatives and Members of the National Assembly. Follow the links below to learn more about the different requirements for each position: