As the 2022 General Election draws closer, some seating and aspiring politicians without degree certificates are beginning to get jittery as a new law is set to take effect and possibly kill their political careers.
according to Article 99(1) of the Constitution, a person shall be eligible for election if the person satisfies the education requirements prescribed by an Act of Parliament.
Now, section 22 of the Elections Act No.24 of 2011 provides for the academic requirements for election to the position of the President, Governor, Members of Parliament, and Members of County Assemblies.
The section was amended in 2017 to require all persons seeking elective positions including MPs and MCAs to have a minimum of a degree from a recognized university.
This is provided for in section 22(2A) of the Elections Act, 2011.
Kivumbi.co.ke understands that and unless amended, this law will take effect in the upcoming General Election, a factor that has raised mixed reactions from politicians- both seating and those eyeing political seats.
Opponents of the law argue it will discriminate against many aspiring politicians especially in a country with few degree holdres.
Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale believes the palyground should be left as it is so the few degree holders with political ambitions can square out with the counterparts who have no such qualifications.
“Only 495,000 Kenyans out of the current population of 52,000,000 have a University degree. This is equal to (495,000÷52,000,000)×100 =0.95% ,
“A law that makes politics the preserve of 0.95% Kenyans is a bad law. Degree holders must be prepared to square off with other mortals (kenyans),” he said.
It is however worth noting that Khalwale’s statistics have no backing from any professional body hence cannot be taken as gospel truth.
Members of County Assembly’s umbrella body has on its part slammed MPs over the plan to make a degree a requirement for elective positions, arguing that it will disadvantage most of them especially those from marginalized areas.
“In North Eastern, Turkana, Lodwar, and lower Easter regions you find a whole county assembly has no single degree holder,
“You know education is a luxury in some of these areas and you sit in parliament and forget where you come from,” Counties’ Assembly Forum Chairman Wahome Ndegwa said in a recent press conference.
The MCA’s want to be excused from the law and hope parliament shall vote to amend it early enough before the next General Electin.
Kandara MP Alice wahome holds that the law failed the test of common sense and not everyone is supposed to have a degree in the country.
“The requirement of an academic degree for Parliamentary and county Assembly elective seats set by Parliament was an unreasonable standard and failed to apprehend the role and functions of those offices.A degree for everyone is totally unnecessary,” she said.
The forum has since moved to court seeking orders to declare the law discriminatory and one that is bound to kill diversity
Garissa Town MP Aden Duale, a proponent of the law believes it is proper for MPs to be degree holders given the nature of their jobs that involve making critical decisions, legislation, and oversight which need someone with some good education level (degree certificate).
“Whereas there are arguments that to be a leader all you need to do is to vie regardless of one qualification, the functions that an MP is required to perform demands that one also possesses academic qualifications that can equip an MP to effectively perform these functions,” he said in a series of social media posts.
Amani National Congress MP Godfrey Otsosi also supports the law ssaying kenyans were given enough time to go to school and acquire degrees before it comes into operation next years.
“This law was supposed to be effective in 2013 but was delayed to give people enough time to back to school. I think 10 years is enough and you cannot argue that it is discriminatory yet it is currently applying to presidents, deputy president, and governors,” he told People Daily newspaper.
Observers believe some candidates with degree certificates shall have it easy in their regions considering most Kenyans who go for elective seats don’t have degree certificates.
The Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission is charged with clearing all aspirants for elective position and as such will not clear those without degrees, unless parliament amends the Act.