Bad apples shouldn’t be on the ballot in August

What you need to know:

  • The vetting and legal processes are making a farce of Chapter Six of the Constitution and the Leadership and Integrity Act.
  • Even leaders declared unfit to hold public office may still be on the ballot as long as they have not exhausted all their avenues for appeal.

Kenyans are likely to be saddled with poor and deficient leadership after the next General Election as a weak vetting system and the courts nod through politicians facing corruption, hate speech and other criminal cases to contest elective seats.

The vetting and legal processes, especially through appeals, are making a farce of Chapter Six of the Constitution and the Leadership and Integrity Act, which set out in detail the specific measures of integrity for agencies tasked with gauging aspirants’ eligibility. 

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission says its hands are tied unless the courts overturn the directive that one ought to be cleared as long as they have not exhausted avenues of appeal. Its position means that so long as an individual has appealed a conviction, it will hand over the clearance certificate. 

Is this democracy at work or negligence? What is even worse is IEBC’s suggestion that even leaders who have been impeached, and declared unfit to hold public office, may still be on the ballot as long as they have not exhausted all their avenues for appeal. This open-ended provision that all it takes for leaders accused—and sometimes, convicted — of serious crimes, is to lodge a case in court to be on the ballot needs to be re-examined. 

This can’t be what the creators of the Constitution intended. Neither is it what Kenyans intended for themselves when they overwhelmingly endorsed the 2010 Constitution. 

Institutions charged with ensuring integrity in leadership have their work cut out for them. But so does the Judiciary. Kenyans deserve better and have every right to ask for this. Institutions charged with ensuring only leaders of integrity are on the ballot cannot throw their hands in the air in resignation. Let’s ask for better, stricter vetting of political aspirants.

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