By Mzalendo Contributor – Moreen Majiwa (@mmajiwa)
The Election Act, which governs the conduct of elections, is one of a slew of bills passed in late August this year. The Act has provisions in it that effectively bar candidates without a post-high school diploma or degree from running for elective positions.
Article 22 (1) (b) states ‘a person may be nominated as a candidate for election under this Act only if that person holds a post secondary school qualification.’ Article 22 (2) states ‘a person may be nominated as a candidate for election as President, Deputy President, county governor or deputy county governor only if the person is a holder of a degree from a university recognised in Kenya’.
This week two petitioners have received permission to file a high court case against the Attorney General, the Minister of Justice, and the yet to be formed Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to have the provisions requiring candidates standing for elective positions to have post secondary school qualifications suspended and eventually removed from the Elections Act.
The basis of their case is that the provisions on minimum educational requirements are discriminatory. That the provisions fail to take into account injustices and structural inequalities that have left many in the rural areas educationally disadvantaged. The petitioners claim that it is unfair for the government to enact a law that places a minimum educational requirement on prospective election candidates without providing corresponding facilities to give said education.
Mithika Linturi, MP for Igembe South constituency, made a similar argument in an article he wrote in the one of the papers last week. In the article he states the provisions on minimum educational requirement for prospective election candidates are ‘manifestly unreasonable’ and ‘severely curtail the democratic rights and freedoms of Kenyans to elect leaders of their choice.’ He also states that the provisions are in breach of the constitutional principle of equality articulated in Article 10 of constitution. He also made the argument that good leadership is not the preserve of the educated or learned, stating “I know many good and effective leaders serving Kenyans but who never schooled beyond Form Four.”
What level of education do you expect your parliamentary candidate to have? Should they be educated above a high school? Or is a high school diploma enough? Should having at least a Bachelors degree from a recognised university be a prerequisite to stand for an elective posts?