A candidate intending to become a senator in Kenya must meet a certain threshold. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) stipulates this threshold. IEBC provides the guidelines to vie for the position of a senator in Kenya.
A senator is a very important elected representative. He or she should protect and promote the interest of the counties. A senator in Kenya also acts as a link between the national and the county governments.
A senator in Kenya plays three roles, which are representation, legislation, and oversight. The senators represent the people in the counties and make laws that primarily concern counties. They also supervise the county governments’ expenditure of national revenue that parliament allocates to them.
To qualify as a potential candidate for the position of the senator 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
In addition, to qualify for the position of a Senator in Kenya, you must be at least 18 years of age. There is no maximum age requirement.
The academic qualifications for a senator in Kenya is a university degree from a university recognised in Kenya. This takes effect 2022 general elections and beyond according to Section 22 of the Elections Act (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).
For clarity, the requirement that a person must possess a degree from a university recognized in Kenya to qualify to be a Member of Parliament in Kenya is hereby nullified.
Constitutional Petition 28 of 2021
A party candidate or an independent candidate, or their authorized agent, should submit certain documents to IEBC during the nomination process.
The candidate ought to present a certified copy of a national identity card or a valid passport. Either should be the document the candidate used to register as a voter.
The candidate should also submit a passport size photograph of himself or herself with white background submitted in hard and soft copy.
If the candidate was a public officer, he or she should submit a letter of discharge from their employer. The letter should confirm that he or she was not an employee six months before the election date. However, this requirement does not apply to any elected representatives (MPs, MCAs, and Governors).
For a party candidate, the candidate should submit to IEBC a nomination certificate from a fully registered political party. The political party should be the one nominating the candidate. An authorized official in the party should duly sign the letter.
The party or independent candidate, or their authorized agent, should submit a duly signed code of conduct. The Second Schedule of the Elections Act (2011) contains the electoral code of conduct.
The candidate or their authorized agent should also submit a duly filled Commission Nomination Form 16. The form should contain the following information:
- An original Statutory Declaration Form made no earlier than one month before the nomination day. This is in accordance with Regulation 18(3) of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012.
- An original Self-Declaration Form as prescribed in the First Schedule of the Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012. The form is in accordance with Regulation 46 of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012.
- the names of a proposer and a seconder who shall be registered voters. For 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).
Independent candidates must also meet some additional requirements to qualify to vie for the position of a senator in Kenya.
They should get a clearance certificate from the Registrar of Political Parties. The certificate should indicate that the person was not a member of any political party for the last three months before the election date. (Regulation 15(a) of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012).
The independent candidates should have a duly filled Form of Intention to Contest in the prescribed form. (Regulation 15(b) of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012)
Every independent candidate must have a soft and a hard copy of a list of at least 2000 supporters in the prescribed form. They should submit the list to the County Returning Officer by a date IEBC prescribes.
A symbol the candidate intends to use during the election is also an additional requirement. IEBC should approve the symbol in accordance with Section 32 of the Elections Act, 2011.
The independent candidates should set up and maintain functioning offices within Kenya. Each of the offices must be available for IEBC to inspect by a certain date the Commission prescribes. The candidates should communicate the address (including physical address) of the offices to the Commission. (Regulation 20(1) and (2) of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012).
The nomination fees should be in the form of a Banker’s Cheque payable to the IEBC.
Any candidate who hails from the special interest groups pays KES 25,000. The candidates from the groups include women, youth, and persons with disabilities. The youth here means any adult below the age of 35 years.
Any other candidate pays KES 50,000 as nomination fees.