MCA seeks minimum qualifications set for Speakers in the law

 Mr Simon Lenguiyia, a member of the Narok County Assembly, wants the minimum qualification for the positions enshrined in law.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A county legislator has petitioned lawmakers to set academic qualifications for Speakers of county assemblies, the Senate and the National Assembly.

Mr Simon Lenguiyia, a member of the Narok County Assembly, wants the minimum qualification for the positions enshrined in law.

In his petition, Mr Lenguiyia stresses the importance of knowledge and competence in the role of a Speaker. He says holders of these positions must have a deep understanding of the law, governance and various matters of national and regional importance in order to make informed decisions and rulings.

The petition further argues that, without such qualifications, legislative processes may suffer from unconstitutional decisions, poor quality legislation and lack of quality consultation. The petitioner refers to Article 10(2) of the Constitution of Kenya, which sets out the principles of governance, including the rule of law, democracy, equity, social justice, inclusiveness and human rights. These principles are binding on all state and public officials when applying or interpreting the Constitution and making public policy decisions.

The petition argues that as the "judges" of their respective assemblies, Speakers should have extensive knowledge of the law, the law-making process and the interpretation and application of the law.

"While it can be argued that the law is available to everyone and that the general public has an idea of what the law says, a rough idea of the law is not what one wants in the coveted Speaker's chair. The Speaker is the centre of democratic engagement, debate, sobriety in the House, constitutionalism and fairness, and like the wise Solomon he should be, a law should be enacted to protect his throne from incompetence," reads the petition.

The petitioner expresses concern that many county assemblies have Speakers who lack adequate knowledge of the law, standing orders and the legislative process. This can result in the enactment of poor quality legislation, some of which may be unconstitutional and subsequently invalidated by the courts.

"At present, most county assemblies have Speakers who are not well versed in the law, including the meaning of standing orders, the legislative process, interpretation and application of the law. Most of the Speakers are not educated in law and when they debate, they deal with very minor issues. Some cannot appreciate the basic principles of law and are unable to contextualise issues and address them by applying the Standing Orders, constitutional provisions or national legislation to them," he says.