Court gives lifeline to MCAs caught up in party-hopping mix

County Assemblies Forum chairman Ndegwa Wahome flanked by other MCAs speak to journalists after a meeting in Naivasha, on November 10, 2021.

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen I Nation Media Group

The High court in Nakuru has declared unconstitutional Section 14 of the Political Parties Act which requires sitting MCAs who switch political parties, to resign within 180 days to the date of General Election.

A three-judge-bench led by Justices Joel Ngugi, Hillary Chemitei and Teresia Matheka that was constituted by Chief Justice Martha Koome to hear a petition filed by Kabazi MCA Dr Peter Mbae, noted that Section 14 of the Political Parties Act is not in line with Articles 194, 101 and 38 of the Constitution.

"The interpretation assigned to Article 194 (1)(e) by Section 14 of the Political Parties Act is not aligned to Articles 4(2); 10; 19; 20 and 38 of the Constitution, to the extent of that miss-alignment," read part of the judgement.

The judges issued orders restraining speakers of the county and National Assemblies from declaring vacant, the seats of MCAs who moved from their sponsoring parties to other outfits.

The order also applies to MCAs who moved from their sponsoring parties to being independent or those who moved from being independent to members of a political party.

Dr Mbar in a petition filed in February 2022, sought orders that would protect sitting MCAs who had switched camps, from losing their seats ahead of the August 9, General Election.

His move followed a communication by the Nakuru County Speaker Joel Kairu, informing members of the House who had expressed interest in contesting on different political outfits that the sponsoring outfit, that they not only needed to resign from their sponsoring parties but also lose their current position.

Party discipline

He argued that Section 14 of the Political Parties act which aims at promoting democracy and party discipline is constitutionally deficient as it does not give provisions for unique circumstances which occur during the transition period in the election cycle.

He sued the Registrar of Political parties, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the Attorney General and the speakers of the 47 county assemblies.

The case referred to the Chief Justice in April and she  justice Koome and she constituted a bench to hear the case.

Dr Mbae; a strong supporter of Deputy President William Ruto who ditched the Jubilee party which sponsored him to the county assembly in 2017, failed to clinch the United Democratic Alliance party ticket to run for Subukia parliamentary seat.