A woman has moved to Milimani Hugh Court to challenge the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC) directive that seeks to lock out aspirants without degrees from running for office in the 2022 General Election.
During the launch of the Commission’s Annual Voter Education Week last week, IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati said the law requiring aspirants for the six elective positions to be degree holders will take effect next year when section 22 of the Election Act takes effect.
The Election Act was amended in 2011 with its implementation shelved in the last two elections (2013 and 2017).
The Youth Policy Analyst’s petition is seeking to challenge the Constitutionality of the clause (Section 22 Election Act).
In her petition, she argues IEBC’s decision will give room for discrimination against Kenyans who qualify as good leaders but with lower academic qualifications.
“By Parliament introducing requirement for conventional degree via the Election Act, majority of Kenyans who would otherwise be qualified have been locked out,” her petition read in part.
The Petitioner, Gloria Orwoba, through her lawyers, argues that Section 22 of the Election Act violates Article 38 of the Constitution by introducing unnecessary hurdles on the way of those who want to vie for elective posts.
“2019 Census report shows less than 2 per cent of Kenyans can access University education. This means 98 per cent of Kenyans will have to surrender their political right of representation to 2 per cent. The Parliament further by glorifying the conventional degree has failed to consider equalising qualifications attained through skills, experience and knowledge,” she explained.
She argues that the objective of the Election Act 2011 was to provide for the conduct of elections, referenda and provide for election dispute resolution.
However, IEBC Chairman said implementation of the amended Act was postponed in the 2017 polls to allow candidates seeking to run for MP and MCA positions to acquire the required academic qualifications.
“We follow the law and the Election Act clearly state that all candidate in the six elective positions must have a university degree to able to qualify to run for office,” said Chebukati.
Chebukati’s announcement came as a shocker to potential aspirants for the positions of MCA and MP whose plans to acquire university degrees were derailed due to disruption of the academic calendar by the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country.
Currently, the Elections Act only makes it mandatory for the presidential aspirant and running mate as well as governors and their running mates to be degree holders.
Although the implementation date of the law has been postponed several times, it is now set to take effect after the National Assembly in 2017 amended Section 22 of the Elections Act that prescribes minimum academic qualifications for elected leaders at both levels of government.