29 October 2012

Kenya: Concerns Mount Over Tepid Integrity Law

Nairobi — The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) have expressed concern over the watered down Leadership and Integrity Act.

CIC Commissioner Kamotho Waiganjo and Muthoni Wangai of the IEBC who spoke at a forum put together by the Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations, decried the lack of clear means of checking the integrity of those seeking elective positions.

"It doesn't have the process by which you're found not eligible to meet moral and ethical requirements... you must have a way by which you are tested," said Waiganjo.

The Act, Wangai said, is also lacking in the area of corruption.

"If you look at the title of the commission that is going to deal with it, the title is Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. I can't see anything on corruption in the law."

The commissioners put blame on Members of Parliament for the diminished role the Integrity Act will play in the upcoming elections.

"Maybe one of the things you can understand about that is that many parliamentarians will be running."

The apparent conflict between Chapter Six of the Constitution which deals with leadership and integrity and the Act's Article 99 sub-section three which states a person cannot be disqualified from being elected until all forms of appeal are exhausted, is another issue Waiganjo said would raise concerns over the integrity of leaders elected in the upcoming polls.

"I believe this sub-section three was added by parliamentarians. That says for you to be found to have not qualified under Chapter Six, you must have exhausted all processes of appeal."

Waiganjo however, was quick to add that the public too would have its share of blame should corrupt persons get into office as a majority of Kenyans do not participate in the nomination process.

"If we don't participate in nominations, what does it matter if we vote eventually? We're going to be voting for the wrong candidates."

The electronic registration of party members and the use of mobile phones in the nomination process, Waiganjo said, would better ensure public participation in the election of leaders with integrity.

"Why can't we have electronic nomination processes? There are 29 million phone owners in this country. We have a data base of all users of phones. Why can't we do nominations through the phone so that we allow for a greater number of people who otherwise would not participate in nominations?" he posed.

Waiganjo also expressed the CIC's concern over the Campaign Financing Bill which is yet to be tabled in Parliament.

"We're hoping that legislation will be in parliament as soon as it is reopened. And that it shall not be downgraded like what happened to the leadership and integrity law."

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