Two Kenyan citizens on Tuesday delivered a petition to the National Assembly seeking to rally Members of Parliament (MPs) to change the Elections Act.
2 Kenyans deliver letter to Parliament asking MPs to change this law
Petition to MPs
The petition was received by Speaker Justin Muturi who presented it to the House during the afternoon session.
The two - Anthony Manyara and John Wangai - have asked MPs to repeal the section which requires election candidates to have a minimum of a university degree.
Manyara and Wangai argue that the requirement is likely to make leadership in Kenya a reserve for the elite.
According to the petition, some those who would like to contest in the 2022 General Election may be left out because they have less than two years to go through the often four-year degree courses.
The petitioners further argued that not all Kenyans can access opportunities to higher education while some cannot afford the cost.
"The petitioners therefore pray that this House deletes Section 22(1)(b) of the Elections Act in its entirety so as to provide a fair playground to all candidates seeking elective positions regardless of their educational backgrounds.
"In addition, the petitioners claim that the university degree requirement will make political leadership a preserve of the elite and will disenfranchise a number of good leaders who may not have been privileged to pursue higher education. As they may not have completed the pursuit of their degrees within the projected time period of less than two years to the next elections," the petition read in part.
Resounding 'No' from MPs
MPs who rose to give their view on the petition were strongly opposed to Manyara and Wangai's plea.
They noted that it would be reckless to entrust leadership to persons who may not have basic educational requirements.
"We cannot have people who have no basic education qualification to participate in the function of the budget making process in this House. We cannot have people who don’t have requisite education qualification to interrogate the Auditor-General reports in this House," stated Garissa Township MP Aden Duale.
Marakwet East MP Kangongo Bowen supported Duale's assertion recounting that the 11th Parliament made a concession and postponed the enactment of that section of the Elections Act.
"You cannot legislate when you’re illiterate. At the same time we’ve seen in some cases where you have a law professor as a governor oversighted by illiterate MCAs. This issue we discussed in the 11th Parliament and this time we’re not going to postpone it to 2027," he stated.
Speaker Muturi deferred the matter to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairperson Wafula Chebukati, however, on Tuesday confirmed that the Commission will be enforcing the degree requirement in the upcoming General Election.
"All candidates contesting in the six elective positions, come the next General Election, must have a university degree to be able to qualify for office
"All qualifications will be verified and we shall provide a framework to the country on how this will be done," he stated.
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