The degree law for Kenyan leaders is segregative: The president should not sign it

Muko Ochanda

The dream of this little angel matters alot. Thanks to the President and the PM the law was not signed at last. Find the story here and here. This move will ensure further deliberations that will lead to reasonable results for a majority of Kenyans.

The protection of the constitution can be done by all who can read it, understand and interprete it well. This can be done even with a keen form IV leaver. The law on representation based on degree requirements will make Kenyan leadership an oligarchy of the elites.

Here is an important question: Is there any scientific evidence that correlates university degree with better leadership acumen? If not then this  laws is just populist at best and adds no value to our national well being. Chapter 4 section 38 of the Kenyan constitution specifically sub section 3 provides that every adult citizen has the right, without unreasonable restrictions — (a) to be registered as a voter; (b) to vote by secret ballot in any election or referendum. Freedom of association on the other hand provides the right to assembly, demonstration, picketing and petition to all Kenyans. On political rights all Kenyans can be candidates for a public office, or office within a political party of which  the citizen is  a member and, if elected, to hold office. Chapter seven on the representation of the people only sets general guidelines for leadership and representation respecting the wider political playing field in Kenya. Please download the Kenyan constitution here.

The  constitution only mentions “unreasonable restrictions”. In this case an unreasonable restriction occurs when the legislature enacts laws that are segregative. For example introducing degrees in leadership is tantamounts to legislating infavour a minority and is ureasonable and unconstitutional. Have the politicians asked themselves what of if the political majority (the non degreed people) decide to reciprocate by refusing to vote because they have been segregated against? In trying to make this clause rosy these  controversial amendments on the elections Act 2012   give sitting MPs and Councillors a grace period of five years within which they must acquire the mandatory university degree. Their rivals however are not exempted from this requirement. The educational requirement (mandatory university degree) for political leaders aspirants in this case is segregative. People should not be forced to get degrees; in five years time or in any number of years. The electorate should always be given the power to decide who they want.

Too much education does not at all imply leadership abilities. We know for sure that it is much more easier for the children of wealthier people to get better education than their poor counterparts. In any case if this law will be passed then the Kenyan leadership will be going the bourgeous way. The real voice of Wanjiku the illiterate mama mboga,  and Mama Rhoda the local Busaa brewer and baba makaa and Mzee Mjengo  who are struggling so hard to make ends meet and all their descendants will not ever make it inside the Kenyan Parliament. Do these paople help in building the economy of Kenya? Are they in any way also contributing to paying the current MPs? If the answer is yes, then their aspirations should not be watered. In any case, we are bidding farewell to a parliament that has a wider representation from people of all classes, colours and sizes now. Whichever language is used to justify this law, cannot stand the test of  human rights fit as it makes some people more precious than others. Kenyans must rise up to reject this law, it is oppresive, segregative at best and it is against the poor people. All people are equal before the law and therefore they should have equal opportunities to participate in all political activities including those related to leadership and representation. The Kenyan citizenry should be allowed the chance to chose the  most preferred leader from competitive politics. If this law goes through the Kenyan people will be denied the opportunity of choosing some possibly good leaders because of the seggregative law.

Some of the best enterpreneurs in Kenya do not have degrees and many other people holding important responsibilities in our country. On the other hand if a “non-degreed” person outcompetes a “degreed person”, it is because he is smatter and understands the needs of the electorate better. If this person or any other for that matter does not do his or her job well, the electorate will punish him or her in the subsequent elections. There is evidence that the potential leaders in this class of  people, now blocked for good from the Kenyan Parliament are capable of doing better just as the “good leaders within the degree class” because they have the ability and are not taking anything for granted. They know that life is not a cup of tea for them and they take their responsibilities seriously. It is important to let the electorate have a bigger choice set in which to decide other than making impositions on them.  We also know that the intellectual class has always shuned politics looking for opportunities elsewhere.Now we are making a law that makes it easier for them, forgetting that all other people who have contributed to make Kenya the country it is today. This is a mistake. If the law favouring women representation had to be adjusted, there should be no special treatment to the academics. So this law should be returned to the parliament for the removal of this particular segregative clause that gives a few “political” advantages  at the expense of the rest of the society. Let Kenya be known as a land of opportunities for all its children.

I hope that the president will think of the majority and not legislate for a minority! The President should not sign this law! It’s against many people! Its against the poor and against the bill of rights enshrined in our constitution. The civil society should move with urgency to the constitutional courts to block this law. Please share this note if you agree with me.

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