THE High Court yesterday quashed sections of the Political Parties Act requiring persons seeking to be elected MPs to have post-secondary education.
But as Justice Mumbi Ngugi quashed section 22(1)(b) of the Political Parties Act, she declined to struck out the requirement that those seeking the positions of president, deputy president and governor and their deputies should have university degrees, saying it is valid. The judge said the requirement is reasonable and justifiable because of the responsibilities that come with the job.
She, however, said that although Parliament is mandated by the people to set out education, moral and ethical considerations, for those seeking to be MPs, the National Assembly failed to look at the socio-economic context. She said a majority of Kenyans, about 18 million, live below the poverty line hence are unable to attain post-secondary education. Justice Ngugi said lack of post-secondary education is not one of the major challenges bedeviling elections in Kenya.
The judge said the requirement is discriminatory and contrary to the constitution because every person is equal before the law and the constitution outlaws direct or indirect discrimination. Justice Ngugi rejected the application requiring naturalised Kenyans to have lived in the country for 10 years before they can seek elective positions.
Parliament recently debated on the bills and passed them but President Kibaki returned them to the National Assembly saying that the cases were still pending in court and in keeping with doctrine of separation of powers, matters before court should not be subject of legislation by Parliament. In refusing to assent to the Bill President Kibaki cited the same reasons of separation of powers and recommended that the section be deleted from the Bill. And yesterday, MPs who had complained over the requirement got a reprieve from the court when the judge declared the sections unconstitutional.