As the August 9 General Election draws near, political parties are conducting primaries or actively preparing for this process that is often bedevilled by violence, replete with corruption, alleged vote rigging, and failure to observe meritocracy, thereby denying people of good standing opportunity to ascend to leadership positions.
Shambolic primaries that fail to filter out tainted individuals, especially as witnessed in the past two electoral cycles, deny the citizens the opportunity to elect leaders who adhere to the tenets of leadership and integrity enshrined in the Constitution.
Political parties must ensure that the candidates they nominate to contest for presidential, gubernatorial, MP and MCA positions comply with Articles 180 (2), 99(1)(b) and 193 (1) (b) of the Constitution and the Elections Act No. 4 of 2011, which call for moral and ethical standards for such public officers.
The Constitution, under Chapter 6, provides for leadership and integrity of all public officers. Chapter 6 is predicated upon the assumption that state officers are the nerve centre of the republic and carry the highest level of responsibility in the management of state affairs and, therefore, their conduct should be beyond reproach. Those whose conduct does not bring honour, confidence and integrity have no place in the management of public affairs.
Besides, nominees should make and deposit a self-declaration form in the prescribed format under the Leadership and Integrity Act 2012.
The primaries sieve should also filter out aspirants who have propagated hate speech and ethnic hatred as enshrined in the National Cohesion and Integration Act. Generally, political parties should require information on financial integrity and compliance from institutions such as the EACC, KRA and CRBs; information on professional conduct from respective professional bodies and information on whether those who have served in public office previously complied or contravened requirements set for public officers; and valid certificates of good conduct and education qualification.
Vetting and scrutiny
With proper vetting and scrutiny of the requisite information and documentation, those charged with or even accused of graft or other crimes, convicted, impeached from office or directed by the court to stay away from office during the adjudication of their cases, as well as those involved in unethical practices will have no pathway to the ballot.
Party members participating in the primaries, must be hawk-eyed to ensure that it will not be just a winnowing exercise to separate the chaff from the grain but, rather, a rigorous process to filter out tainted individuals who do not have the character and ability to deliver public goods and services.
On August 9, we all have a date with destiny: We have one more chance to vote for integrity. However, let us start at the party primaries.
By Sheila Masinde-Executive Director, Transparency International-Kenya.
The article was published on Daily Nation Newspaper on 5th April 2022.