Politicians with ongoing criminal cases, including those battling corruption and hate speech charges, now risk being locked out of the August General Election in an elaborate bid by vetting agencies to comply with Constitutional requirements on integrity.
Those with suspicious degrees running for governor and president, as well as their running mates, will not be safe from the hammer.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, and the Registrar of Political Parties, and Attorney-General Githu Muigai say that they will not leave anything to chance in a bid to clean up Kenyan leadership.
“Information on ongoing criminal trials or investigations into criminal conduct of candidates in the elections may be obtained from relevant agencies, which may be significant to the ethics or integrity standing of candidates,” the team said in a joint communication in Thursday papers.
They, have however, said that such a candidate would not be disqualified if he or she “preferred an appeal or review against the sentence or decision; or all possibility of appeal or review has not been exhausted.”
On Wednesday, Attorney-General Githu Muigai remained optimistic that a 2013 court ruling that one cannot be stopped from running for having an ongoing case would not hurt their bid to enforce an ambitious law on integrity for elected officers in the August 8 poll.
“In the integrity test, there are many boxes to tick and criminality is just one of them. The other example is academic qualification. We have, regrettably have people carrying degrees they have not earned. Therefore, one of the basic question we will ask is: Do you hold the academic qualification you claim to hold?” said Prof Muigai.
At a joint press briefing at a Nairobi hotel, the agencies vowed that they would collaborate in the enforcement of Chapter Six ahead of the August polls.
“The institutions will enforce compliance with the leadership and integrity requirements by aspirants in the forthcoming General Election,” they said in a joint statement read by Mr Wafula Chebukati, the IEBC chairman.
However, the “enforcement” still remains vague, especially considering that lawyers have argued that every Kenyan has an unflinching constitutional right- other than those convicted of election offences, academically unqualified (if required in the position sought) or of unsound mind- to contest for election as long as they are above 18 and are registered voters.
In their joint statement, the agencies still left the heavy lifting to the political parties who nominate candidates for seats, asking them to be the first filter in the clearance chain.
“We encourage political parties to nominate candidates who meet the leadership and integrity threshold set out in the law,” they said in a joint statement.
But in a country where politics is a get-rich-quickly scheme, a provision to lock out corrupt individuals might still remain a pipe dream, much less enforced by political parties.
“I cannot stop anyone from running for office in my party. There are agencies that are supposed to clear people. They should do it,” President Kenyatta had thrown the ball to the agencies’ court in a live TV interview on Monday evening.
Chapter Six was what many have said was Kenya’s most ambitious section of the Constitution 2010, but which has been watered down so much and with a “vagueness” that has made it impossible to implement.
The subsequent Leadership and Integrity Act developed a self-declaration form for aspirants, which the EACC assesses before clearing a candidate.
They are asked to declare if they have ever been convicted of any offence and sentenced to serve for at least six months, misused public resources, removed from register of members of professional organisations, dismissed from employment due to integrity, or whether they had been subject of criminal or disciplinary proceedings as public officers.
Have a look:
THE EACC SELF-DECLARATION FORM: (Leadership and Integrity Act)
1. Have you ever engaged in the conduct of public affairs?
2. Have you ever misused public resources?
3. Have you ever abused a public office?
4. Have you ever misrepresented information to the public?
5. Have you ever engaged in wrongful conduct whilst in the furtherance of personal benefit?
6. Have you ever discriminated against anyone on any grounds other than as provided under the Constitution?
7. Have you ever falsified official or personal records?
8. Have you ever been debarred or removed from the register of members of your professional organisation?
9. Have you ever had any occupational or vocational license revoked and or otherwise subjected to any other disciplinary action for cause in Kenya or any other country?
10. Have you ever been dismissed from employment on account of lack of integrity?
11. If you have been a public officer, have you ever failed to declare your income, assets and liabilities under the Public Officer Ethics act, 2013?
12. Have you ever been convicted of any offence and sentenced to serve imprisonment for a period of at least six months?
13. Have you ever had any application for a certificate of clearance or good conduct or for a visa or other document authorising work in a public office denied and/or rejected for cause in Kenya or any other country?