Candidates, parties must toe the line as regards poll campaigns

William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto acknowledges greetings from members of the public at Kahawa West during his tour of Nairobi tour on January 14, 2022. 

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • We must own up to our complicity in allowing politicians to ignore the ethical and moral demands of public office.
  • We must now insist that the letter and spirit of the Constitution and supporting laws is faithfully observed.

The election campaign period has not formally been declared but electioneering ahead of the 2022 General Election has been in full swing for a considerable period.

This demands that those on the campaign trail scrupulously observe all the laws and regulations governing electoral conduct.

This is the time all political parties and their presumptive candidates for State House right down to county assembly seats must be asked to commit to acceptable standards of behaviour and conduct.

This would be for the purpose of ensuring that campaigns are not marred by incitement, violence, ethnic antagonism, harassment, foul language, slander and divisive propaganda.

It is also important to ensure that all contestants agree to a compact against cheating so that the end results truly reflect the preference of the voter rather than electoral fraud and chicanery.

And finally, there must also be assurances that, as intended by the Constitution, those who cannot pass the test of ethical and moral probity are disqualified from presenting themselves as candidates.

There are already various legal instruments designed to achieve these goals but, unfortunately, they are more observed in the breach.

Legal instruments 

We have the Leadership and Integrity Code, set out in Chapter 6 of our Constitution. There is also the Elections Act and various supporting pieces of legislation and rules, including the Election Offenses Act and the Electoral Code of Conduct.

Our politicians conspired to make these laws inapplicable or unenforceable. The various statutory agencies also refused to enforce the laws.

We stood meekly by, and hence see the ballot papers populated by crooks and vagabonds only out to feather their own nests, even if that means dismembering the country.

Before we ritually complain against the quality of leadership, we must own up to our complicity in allowing politicians to ignore the ethical and moral demands of public office.

We must now insist that the letter and spirit of the Constitution and supporting laws is faithfully observed in regard to keeping criminals, hatemongers and inciters to violence off the ballot.

It is time we also applied direct pressure on our political parties and candidates for office.

What we should be demanding is that all parties deny nomination to those who cannot pass the ‘good and proper’ test.

Lists of their wealth

We can also demand that all candidates for president promise to not only behave well themselves but also lock out thieves, crooks, inciters and other miscreants out of their campaigns and party nomination lists.

In the interest of encouraging transparency and accountability, presumptive presidential candidates William Ruto, Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, Jimi Wanjigi, Justin Muturi and others must lead by example.

They can all start by first making public detailed lists of their wealth and, if necessary, explaining how it was acquired.

They can also direct that any person seeking nomination for a downstream contest on their party ticket will do the same.

They must also pledge that, if elected, they will surrender all their business and commercial interests to a ‘blind trust’ and, that while in office, they will not engage in any private business activity or do anything that might benefit their personal interests or those of family, relatives and associates.

These should be matters of principle rather than laws; it’s about solemn pledges to the voters.

And if those seeking leadership cannot abide by such basic demands, the voters will know what to do.

[email protected] www.gaitho.co.ke @MachariaGaitho

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