- Lessons and Implications of the Confirmation of Charges Against Kenya's 'Ocampo Four'
- Finance Minister Quits Over ICC Charges
- Shortage of HIV Test Kits Raises Concerns
- Living On the Edge in Turkana Region
- Ali Breaks Silence, Describes Delight At Acquittal
- Uhuru, Ruto Eligible for Presidency - CIC
- Tea Sector Posts Record Earnings in 2011
- Resettle IDPs, Urges Annan
- Uhuru, Muthaura Have Done the Right Thing
- All Displaced People Should Return Home
- Concern Raised As Parents Shun Schools in Poll Violence Hotspots
- Ruling On IEBC Hiring in February
- Country Working Towards Conditions Needed for Direct Flights to U.S.
- How ICC Claimed Kibaki's Lieutenants
- Geothermal Project to Receive Sh10 Billion Funding Boost
- Five Million to Get IDs Before Elections
- Speed Up Building Port
- Uhuru and Muthaura Did Well to Quit Posts
- A Full Plate Awaits Githae
- Clashes Continue in Moyale
- Baraza Case to Be Heard Monday
- Two Firms in Joint Venture to Drill for Oil Near Lodwar
- Exit Uhuru, Muthaura
- ICC Charges Hound Uhuru Out of Treasury
- Consumers Grow Despite Inflation
- Poor Relations Between Banks Blamed for Cash Shortages
- Fish Prices Up As Vegetable Supply Dwindles
- Consumers to Pay More for Milk and Bread As Prices Rise
- Kibaki Tasks Ex-Dar CJ to Lead Probe in Kenya
- Mombasa Port Cargo Congestion Forces Three-Month Fees Waiver
5 January 2012
One of the issues I discussed in Nairobi with academics, politicians and some government officials last month concerned the plan by some MPs to table a motion in Parliament that would allow those who vie for the presidency in future elections to run simultaneously for other offices.
The motive of those who seek to amend the Constitution is to accommodate the ambitions of about a dozen politicians who are not inclined to take responsibility for their decisions.
They have provided three flawed reasons for seeking to change the electoral law.
Firstly, their claim that the US electoral system permits presidential candidates to simultaneously run for the senate is erroneous. In the American system, Senators have six-year fixed terms and only one third of them seek re-election every two years, including during the presidential election.
If a Senator's six-year term has not expired, he or she is not required to resign while running for the presidency.
In such a case, she or he will not be running for a fresh senate seat. For example, when Barack Obama and John McCain contested the presidency in 2008, they were senators, but they did not campaign for their senate seats.
So, misrepresenting the US system in order to pursue a selfish agenda in Kenya should be discouraged.
Secondly, those who seek to provide a soft landing for presidential aspirants base their claim on the need for leadership experience.
They argue that if the presidential aspirants failed to win the presidency, they would use the lower offices to acquire leadership experience, so that they can run for the presidency in the subsequent poll.
I support the idea of candidates being afforded opportunities to gain leadership experience before having a tilt at the presidency.
However, the pathway to responsible leadership is through participation in activities that emphasise selflessness, clear strategic planning and a willingness to respect the rule of law.
Amending the electoral law and the constitution to enable prospective national leaders to run for the presidency and another office at the same time encourages political gambling and the manipulation of legal institutions, which are not prerequisites for responsible leadership.
If such presidential aspirants lack the leadership experience needed in the presidency, they should be advised to seek lower electoral offices or other responsible positions in the corporate sector or public service.
Thirdly, those who contemplate changing the law argue that if the candidates for the presidency were not permitted to run for lower offices, they would be condemned to oblivion after losing the presidential poll.
They also claim that without a change in the law, presidential aspirants would be discriminated against.
Are the power-hungry presidential aspirants are so lacking in skills that they cannot perform anything else in society unless the Constitution was amended to favour them? Would Senate candidates also be permitted to run for lower positions simultaneously?
Would those running for parliament be permitted to run for civic seats simultaneously?
The law gives individuals choices, and once they have exercised their choices, they have to face the consequences.
It is high time Kenyans devised ways of punishing the MPs and presidential candidates who are interested in changing the Constitution and the electoral law to suit their narrow and selfish interests.
Prof Makinda teaches at Murdoch University, Australia.