THREE-PRONGED HURDLE

Why senators want to stop retiring governors from vying in 2022

A court ruled that governors intending to run for any seat should resign six months to the polls.

In Summary

• Trans Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito, the sponsor, said the five-year lull would give investigative agencies time to 'look into their past and tenure as governors'.

• Narok Senator Ledama Olekina has drafted amendments to the Public Audit Act to lock out any governor with extreme audit queries from vying.

Governors Kiraitu Murungi (Meru), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) and Mwangi wa Iria (Murang'a) during a briefing
AMBITIOUS: Governors Kiraitu Murungi (Meru), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) and Mwangi wa Iria (Murang'a) during a briefing
Image: COURTESY

Second-term governors intending to contest other elective seats after leaving office in 2022 are facing a three-pronged block that threatens to throw their plans into disarray.

A court ruled that governors intending to run for any seat should resign six months to the polls. Senators are pushing to amend the Constitution, while an Act of Parliament seeks to bar them.

A senator has set in motion an amendment to the Constitution to block the governors from running for a political seat within five years of leaving office. Another is pushing changes to the Public Audit Act to stop those with serious audit queries from contesting.

 

Last week, Justice Weldon Korir pulled a shocker with his ruling that MCAs, governors or their deputies must resign six months to the 2022 General Election if they intend to run for other seats.

“Not even a governor or deputy is exempted by the provision. The reason is that in the constitutional matrix, governors and deputy governors belong to the same family as MCAs,” the judge ruled.

The court further ruled that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has no power to authorise a person barred by law to vie for either President or a parliamentary seat.

The ruling comes at the time the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020, that bars governors from running for political office within the first five years after leaving office is set to be introduced in the Senate.

“A person who has served as a county governor shall not be eligible to be elected as President, Member of Parliament or member of a county assembly within the first five years immediately after the end of the term of service,” reads the bill amending Article 180 of the Constitution.

Trans Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito, the sponsor, said the five-year lull would give investigative agencies time to “look into their past and tenure as governors” charged with managing billions of taxpayers’ money.

“My feeling is that many governors want to vie for other positions, including President and senator, just to cover their past mistakes,” he says.

 

And in the latest move, Narok Senator Ledama Olekina has drafted amendment to the Public Audit Act to lock out any governor with extreme audit queries from vying.

“If you look at the Public Audit Act, it calls for accountability. Section 31 of the Act read together with Article 179 of the Constitution demands accountability,” Olekina said.

He added, “To make it easy, we have to amend the Act. If you read of the adverse opinion, it means that the financial statements have been misrepresented. A disclaimer means they have not provided the information to the auditors. So we cannot allow that. We must demand accountability.”

They county chiefs have opposed the ruling and push to bar them from contesting, saying the moves are unfair, discriminatory, double standards and unconstitutional.

“Why do they fear governors who want to run for presidency? Maybe it is because they know we are the best solution to this country because we understand the problems of mwananchi on the ground,” Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua said.

Mutua is among the 22 governors who are serving their second and final constitutional term in office. Some have declared intentions to run for various seats in 2022 including that of President.

Mutua, Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Hassan Joho (Mombasa), and Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a) have declared intentions to run for President.

Edited by Henry Makori