I doubt anyone would argue that there is need to reform the leadership of the country. However the question of how high to set the bar for leaders is one that country or rather the government has grappled with for a while now. Since the passing of the constitution we have seen the bar for leadership and integrity raised, lowered, and then lowered again. However a recent ruling by the court interpreting Chapter 6 may just have raised the bar again.
The constitution set the bar for leadership and integrity pretty high. Chapter 6 of the requires of leaders: personal integrity, competence and suitability; objectivity and impartiality in decision making; ensuring that decisions are not influenced by nepotism, favouritism, or other improper motives; corrupt selfless service based solely on the public interest practices; accountability to the public for decisions and actions; discipline and commitment in service to the people.
However during crafting of the implementing legislation for Chapter 6 i.e. the Leadership and Integrity Bill, the Cabinet so mutilated the bill’s provisions thereby substantially lowering the bar as far as leadership and integrity are concerned. And according to the Commission for Implementation of the Constitution the bill proposed by the Cabinet was ineffective for the purposes of implementing Chapter six of the constitution and contained clauses that were unconstitutional…contravening the letter, spirit and intent of the constitution and chapter six itself.
Parliament then not only passed the weakened version of the Leadership and Integrity Bill; but also amended the bill to make it even more difficult to exclude those vying leadership on grounds of questionable integrity. The leadership and integrity bill as passed by parliament provided exemptions for those running for elective positions from vetting by state agencies. Parliament removed from the bill clauses requiring state officers to declare their wealth. And last but not least Parliament removed from the bill the requirement that the Ethics and Corruption Commission publish and publicize candidates that have pending criminal cases.
However with its ruling annulling the appointment of Mumo Matemu as chair person of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) the judiciary has not only put the debate about leadership and integrity back at the fore, but has reiterated and reinforced the intent of Chapter 6. In its ruling the court held that:
“Article 73 requires state officials to be selected on basis of personal integrity, competence and integrity. The people of Kenya did not intend to include these provisions on integrity and suitability for public offices as mere suggestions, superfluous or ornamental, they did not intend to include these provisions as lofty aspirations. Kenyans were singular desirous of cleaning up politics and governance structures by instating on high standards of personal integrity among those seek to govern us or hold public office.’
Though the ruling was in relation to appointment of Mr. Mumo Matemu as the Chairman of the EACC. The court’s ruling points Parliament, the Cabinet and the citizenry back to the principles in Chapter 6 and raises once again raises the bar for leadership and integrity. So while Parliament and the Cabinet may have gotten away with watering down the Leadership and Integrity Bill, the ruling of the court appears to hold the primacy of the constitution, so will parliament and the cabinet now follow suit.