Nominations a mockery of rule of law

Mike Sonko Mombasa Wiper

Former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko (3rd left) displays his certificate after he was picked to run for Mombasa governor on a Wiper ticket. Kisauni MP Ali Mbogo will be his running mate.

Photo credit: Pool

Kenya is nowhere near being written off, but it is heading in that direction with the types of nominations we have been witnessing. Former Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko tops the list of misfits in politics and his should be a nomination that concerns every decent Kenyan.

There are many Sonkos out there with criminal cases still pending in court. Do not pay attention to the notion of “innocent till proven guilty” when it comes to Kenyan politicians. That is a rule that is being abused, especially by corrupt lawyers whose only interest is their legal fees and not the rule of law.

Innocent until proven guilty loses its meaning when it is used to reference obviously corrupt and murderous Kenyan politicians whose source of obscene wealth will remain questionable.  We may not have jury service in Kenya, but every Kenyan sits on a jury panel by default given the level of impunity and corruption in the country.  Reasonable Kenyan men and women can distinguish from prima facie evidence a corrupt politician from an honest one.

Shenanigans

Only a fool would be fooled by the shenanigans the vetting agencies are using to clear politicians whose integrity has been tested and found wanting.  Leaders who have been impeached for gross misconduct in public office remain impeached and their guilt status should stand as long as Senate pronounced itself on the matter in accordance with the law. 

Senate oversights the functions of the counties and received a number of cases of governors who had been impeached by their own county assemblies for corruption and abuse of power.  As a result, three governors were found guilty by the Senate and removed from office, namely Mr Sonko, Mr Mohammed Abdi (Wajir) and Mr Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu).

Senate, as a legislative assembly, has distinct powers just like those of the Judiciary.  As a legislature, they are co-equal according to the constitution of Kenya and their decision on the impeachment of county bosses who abuse their office should be final.

The idea of impeached governors heading to the courts to overturn decisions made by the Senate is laden with mischief and impunity.  The courts should therefore not accept to be used to legitimise impunity. It was reassuring therefore for the High Court to uphold the decision of the Senate. It was also timely and crucial for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to opine that an impeached governor cannot be cleared to stand in an election.

Great disservice

Political parties that give direct nominations to individuals who otherwise will not cut the mustard when it comes to Chapter Six of the Constitution on Ethics and Integrity are doing the country a great disservice. 

Wiper party has not only been careless but damn right disrespectful of the people of Mombasa by planting an impeached governor on them.  

Looking at the sizeable crop of corrupt and criminally inclined leaders we have, I can confidently say a Kenyan leader is not yet born. However, we can birth him or her by insisting on leaders with integrity. It is therefore imperative that vetting agencies learn to read the mood of the country without following rules of their own making to force corrupt individuals on citizens. They have erred in their attempt to clear politicians who have been impeached and removed from office by a public body such as the Senate, found guilty by courts or currently facing criminal cases. 

What vetting agencies are trying to do is to put the cart before the horse by even suggesting that impeached governors and politicians with criminal cases can still vie for seats while waiting to exhaust their appeals.  The rule of thumb is that politicians whose integrity has been questioned and whose credibility is wanting should be the ones to wait for court outcomes before vying for a political seat or even be nominated to any public office.

Common sense

Common sense should guide vetting agencies not impunity. The private sector will not give criminal individuals a second of their time, neither should public institutions. Parliament and counties have become sewers of impunity and the only way to cleanse them is by being tough on politicians who have been found to have violated the constitution. The rush to the courts is just a hoodwinking exercise and corrupt way to buy themselves illegitimate lifelines.

If ordinary people can see and vocalise their concerns about corrupt leaders, why are vetting institutions blind to them? Law should not be used to protect impunity, but rather enhance respect for the rule of law. Let no one who breaches rules on ethics and integrity rise to public office.

Ms Guyo is a legal researcher. [email protected] @kdiguyo

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