The date of commencement of the law requiring aspirants for the position of Members of Parliament and Members of County Assemblies to be degree holders may be pushed ahead if parliament passes bills requiring the law be pushed past 2022.
The Senate Committee on Justice, Legal and Human Rights chaired by Nyamira Senator, Hon. Okongo Omogeni (SC) on Thursday held a virtual meeting to deliberate on two draft elections (Amendment) Bills, 2021 sponsored by Senators Hon. Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet) and his Narok counterpart Hon. Ledama ole Kina.
In his proposal, Senator Murkomen seeks to have the Elections Act amended to enable a person who is able to read and write in English or Kiswahili and in the case of the deaf, are literate in Kenya sign language, to be nominated as Member of Member of Parliament.
Senator Ledama proposes that a person seeking to be an MP should hold a degree whilst those seeking to be a member of the County Assembly should hold a Certificate of Secondary Education or those who have served two terms as MCA or Member of Local Authority.
Currently, the law only allows the nomination of a candidate for election as MP or MCA, if they hold a degree from a recognised university.
Sen Murkomen argues that the law 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.
Sen Ledama opines that the requirement for an MCA to hold a degree could be a tall order considering the low literacy levels, especially in marginalized counties.
The committee resolved that the two bills had met the constitutional threshold and approved them for publication.
The move comes at a time the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati announced that the law requiring aspirants to be degree holders will take effect in the 2022 General Election in compliance with the provisions of the elections act.