Awoman has filed a petition in Milimani Hugh Court challenging the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC) directive that seeks to bar aspirants without degrees from running for office in the 2022 General Election.
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati stated last week at the launch of the Commission’s Annual Voter Education Week that the law requiring aspirants for the six elective positions to be degree holders will take effect next year when Section 22 of the Election Act takes effect.
The Election Act was amended in 2011, but its implementation was postponed in the previous two elections (2013 and 2017).
The petition filed by the Youth Policy Analyst seeks to challenge the clause’s constitutionality (Section 22 Election Act).
In her petition, she claims that the IEBC’s decision will allow for discrimination against Kenyans who are qualified as good leaders but have lower academic credentials.
“By introducing a requirement for a conventional degree through the Election Act, Parliament has locked out the majority of Kenyans who would otherwise be qualified,” her petition stated in part.
Gloria Orwoba, through her lawyers, claims that Section 22 of the Election Act violates Article 38 of the Constitution by putting unnecessary obstacles in the way of those seeking elective positions.
“According to the 2019 Census report, less than 2% of Kenyans have access to university education. This means that 98% of Kenyans will have to give up their political right to representation to 2%. The Parliament has also failed to consider equalizing qualifications obtained through skills, experience, and knowledge by glorifying the conventional degree,” she explained.
She claims that the purpose of the Election Act of 2011 was to provide for the conduct of elections, referendums, and the resolution of election disputes.
However, the Chairman of the IEBC stated that the implementation of the amended Act was postponed in the 2017 elections to allow candidates seeking to run for MP and MCA positions to obtain the necessary academic qualifications.
“We follow the law, and the Election Act clearly states that all candidates for the six elective positions must have a university degree in order to be eligible to run for office,” Chebukati said
Chebukati’s announcement came as a surprise to potential MCA and MP candidates whose plans to pursue university degrees had been derailed due to the disruption of the academic calendar caused by the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country.
Currently, the Elections Act only requires presidential candidates and running mates, as well as governors and their running mates, to have a bachelor’s degree.
Although the law’s implementation date has been pushed back several times, it is now set to go into effect after the National Assembly amended Section 22 of the Elections Act in 2017 to mandate minimum academic qualifications for elected leaders at both levels of government.