Dozens of political nominees, ranging from members of county assemblies to governors, have a reason to worry after the Supreme Court on Monday took charge of a case filed by the national agency on human rights, seeking to lock out contestants who are either under investigation by anti-graft units or are facing court charges.
On Monday, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights appeared before the Supreme Court’s deputy registrar for the mention of its case, which seeks to block leaders with questions surrounding their integrity from contesting the August elections.
The commission has sued the Attorney-General and listed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, 12 political parties, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Auditor-General as interested parties.
The political parties are Jubilee, Orange Democratic Movement, Wiper, Democratic Party, Amani National Congress, Ford-Kenya, Kenya African National Union, Labour Party, National Rainbow Coalition, Narc Kenya, Maendeleo Chap Chap, and Chama Cha Mashinani.
The KNCHR, through lawyer Nani Mungai, argues that the Constitution stipulates that persons entrusted with public funds should take personal liability for any losses or acts that are contrary to the law, and therefore should be of proven integrity.
It faults both the Appellate and High courts for shying away from interpreting Chapter Six of the Constitution, which deals with the leadership and integrity qualifications of civil servants, whether elected or appointed.
“Some of the nominees are either suspects or have been taken to court over offences which involve misuse or misappropriation of public funds, or other heinous crimes which negatively impact on their integrity,” argues the commission.
KNCHR further alleges that some candidates have already been found to have acted in gross misconduct by way of their profession, business or private lives.
“This advisory is crucial in light of the fact that we are in an election year and some of the persons who are responsible for ensuring that public funds are lawfully and properly applied have offered themselves to be elected in the forthcoming polls.”
No chance for appeal
The Supreme Court’s decision will be final, with no chance for appeal.
That could deal a blow to the political careers of individuals implicated in violence, voter bribery and other election malpractices.
However, activist Okiya Omtatah has filed an objection to the hearing and determination of the matter at the top court, saying that he has filed a similar case before the High Court that is still ongoing.
In his suit at the High Court, Mr Omtatah is protesting against the fact that 15 institutions — dubbed the Chapter Six Working Group on Election Preparedness — have joined forces to ensure that law is enforced for those intending to vie.
The IEBC has a special vetting panel to weed out aspirants with integrity issues.
It has been meeting since May 10, and has been forwarding reports to various agencies such as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Judiciary, the Attorney-General, and the Commission for Higher Education, which is validating the authenticity of the academic certificates of all aspirants.
“Upon receiving feedback from the agencies, we will then write to our presiding officers not to clear candidates who will not meet the requirements of the Constitution,” a source in the panel said.
When releasing its assessment report on party nominations last week, KNCHR said it had received more than 50 complaints touching on some candidates’ integrity.
Attorney-General Githu Muigai said the Chapter Six Working Group will leave nothing to chance, and will use this election to raise the bar on leadership and integrity.
“I want the Judiciary to help us weed out elements that we all agree ought not to be on leadership positions,” said Prof Muigai.