Lately there seems to be several attempts by parliament to amend legislation to favour the interests of those in the current House. The latest form of such legislative manipulation occurs in the amendments to Election Act 2011. In its an un-amended form the Election Act 2011 bars presidential candidates and their running mates from running for any other elective positions – senator, governor, Member of Parliament etc – during the general election.
However during the course of the week Members of Parliament have made valiant attempts to the change the provisions of the Election Act to allow presidential candidates and their running mates to run for other elective positions. The reasoning behind the proposed amendment is to give presidential candidates and their running mates a soft landing should they fail at their presidential bids.
The proposed amendment introduced by Nambale MP, Chris Okemo, through the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Bill) 2012 (the same legislation through which MPs are planning to increase their gratuity) was yesterday successfully passed in an extended session of parliament. The amendment reads:
“Not withstanding any other provision of this Act and for the avoidance of doubt, a person who is nominated as candidate for election as a President or Deputy President is nevertheless eligible for nomination and may contest as a candidate for any other elective seat in the same elections.”
The reasoning behind the amendment seems flawed. I’m not sure exactly what a ‘soft landing’ is? Or why presidential candidates should receive a soft landing if their presidential bids fail? Further in whose interest is the ‘soft landing’? Certainly not the taxpayer, the amendment involves allowing presidential candidates to run for two positions, if the presidential candidate should win the presidential race, they would be required to relinquish whatever other elective position they have won, and a 40 million by-election for the seat would ensue. A pretty hard landing for the taxpayer considering he/she would have just paid the bill for our most expensive election yet.
Apart from the amendment that will allow presidential candidates to run for other elective seats MPs also managed to change the Election Act to lower the education requirements for those running for the position of member parliament from university degree to high school diploma. MPs also succeeded in passing an amendment to the Political Parties Act that allows MPs to change parties without having to relinquish their seats.
Of all these amendments I’m sure that most Kenyans are wondering, what is the point of making new legislation only to amend it later to suit the whims of the political class? Ideally the constitution and the pursuant legislation are designed to provide a smooth transition and continuity of the good policies while rectifying/plugging/expunging the inefficiencies of the old dispensation. However this can’t happen if legislature keeps making laws then amending the new laws to ensure that the political system basically remains the same.