Kenyan lawmakers require sufficient and suitable qualifications. This should happen for current and future elections.
Before the 2013 general elections, the 10th parliament made some selfish amendments to the election laws. They lowered the academic qualifications for Kenyan lawmakers seeking the Parliamentary and County Assembly seats.
Voters elected MPs and the Ward Representatives without a university degree. The MPs were Senators, MPs representing the Constituencies and Women Representatives. They did not lower the bar for the President, Deputy President, Governors, and Deputy Governors. The law still required the aspirants for these positions to have a university degree to qualify for the election.
The move to lower academic qualifications for the Kenyan lawmakers was unwise. It has affected both levels of government. The biggest culprits were the Members of the County Assembly (MCAs).
The MCAs face reproach for being incapable of formulating formidable county legislation. They cannot initiate debates, motions or pass laws that are of good quality and that transcend legal scrutiny.
MCAs also engage in constant warfare with the County Executive Committee Members, especially County Governors. They have constantly held the governors at ransom. They even threaten them with impeachment if they refuse to yield to their demands.
The result has been unrestricted and unmerited benefits for the MCAs. They earn dubious foreign travel packages and sitting allowances. They even contravene personal allowances limit set by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).
Parliament also has its fair share of tribulations. They are often about supremacy wars between the National Assembly and the Senate. The National Assembly has constantly overlooked the Senate in the process of making laws. Yet, both chambers of parliament ought to work together. They should conduct their business in mutual consultation and cooperation.
The National Assembly has become a den of corruption and political shenanigans. Parliament is a victim of greed and impunity.
The Senate itself has not satisfactorily done its job to protect the counties. It does not comprehensively champion the interests of the counties. The Senators fight and discredit the governors rather than engage them proactively. The Senate has failed to facilitate the growth and capacity for the counties.
Suitable qualifications for the Kenyan lawmakers weigh heavily on the quality of their output. They determine if the laws and policies both levels of government make are sufficient and beyond scrutiny.
On oversight, Parliament and County Assemblies have become rubber stamps for the Executive. They do not scrutinize adequately the policy issues the Executive generates. They mostly pass the laws to appease the executive arms of their governments. IEBC maintains that suitable qualifications will ensure Kenya gets “quality leadership” in the general elections.
These proposals will kick-start the process of improving the quality of leadership in parliament and the county assemblies.
Parliament needs to ensure that Kenyan lawmakers have suitable qualifications. This means they should have special skills, knowledge, or ability that makes them suitable for these elective positions.
Academic qualifications should not be solely about university degrees.
However, having enough academic qualifications will not necessarily translate to suitability. Neither will it guarantee results that are above board. Despite that, it is important to ensure that Kenyan lawmakers have the requisite capabilities required to hold public office.