Senate Legal Committee approves Bill seeking to quash degree requirement for MCA, MP seat

Senate Legal Committee approves Bill seeking to quash degree requirement for MCA, MP seat

The Senate legal committee has approved Senator Kipchumba Murkomen’s Bill seeking to amend the elections act and remove a requirement that those vying for MPs and MCAs must have a degree.

The committee has given the bill a nod, saying it will ensure that no Kenyan is discriminated against as far as vying for positions is concerned.

Steered by Nyamira Senator Okongo Omugeni, the committee agreed that the Bill should be expedited before the 2022 General Election.

Senator Murkomen sought to amend section 22 subsection 1 of the Elections Act by deleting paragraph B, which states that a person must hold a degree from a University recognized in Kenya in order to be nominated as a candidate for election.

The Senator contends that the Act, in its current form, is discriminatory and restrictive because it implies that only those with degrees are qualified to serve in public office.

In the Bill, Murkomen wants anyone who is able to read and write in the English or Swahili languages or, in the case of a person who is deaf but is literate in the Kenya sign language eligible to vie.

“The provision as contained in the Elections Act is not only restrictive but discriminates against persons who may not have a degree as it implies that only persons who have a degree have the capacity to serve in public office,” stated Senator Murkomen in his submission to the Senate.

The amendment comes days after Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati announced that only those with degrees will be allowed to vie in the polls in compliance with the Elections Act.

“We follow the law and the Elections Act clearly states that all candidates in the six elective positions must have a university degree to able to qualify to run for office,” Chebukati said on Monday, throwing a spanner in the works.

The amendment is premised on Article 38(3) of the Constitution, which provides that “every adult citizen has a right, without unreasonable restrictions, to be registered as a voter, to vote by secret ballot in any election of referendum, and to be a candidate for public office or office within a political party of which the citizen is a member and elected, to hold office”.

Other than candidates in Parliamentary elections, Murkomen also seeks to have candidates for County Assembly seats also exempted from IEBC’s academic qualifications, basing his argument on Article 110 of the Constitution.

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