A few days ago, investigative and regulatory agencies came together and issued a statement warning they will stop individuals with criminal or graft records from contesting for political positions in August. On Friday, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission submitted to the electoral commission a list of some 106 individuals being investigated for violation of the integrity rule as contained in chapter six of the Constitution.
Subsequent to that, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has issued a warning that it will enforce the provisions of chapter six, which plainly means it may stop some candidates from contesting for elective positions.
Enforcing the leadership and integrity rule is an imperative. We must rid the leadership of characters with dubious backgrounds. It is the surest way of entrenching civility and dignity in public service. Leaders must be standard bearers and benchmarks for moral probity.
However, it is a facile pursuit. Nobody can be stopped from contesting for an elective positions simply because of criminal investigations; that never illuminates culpability or otherwise. An individual can only be stopped after conviction by court and even then, when all avenues for appeal have been pursued and exhausted.
Even more problematic is the use of evidence from EACC to lock out candidates. The EACC is long on threat but short on action. In 2015, the EACC gave President Uhuru Kenyatta a long list of powerful individuals who were under investigation. This list was tabled before Parliament and led to the sacking of ministers and principal secretaries. Two years later, nobody has been convicted. In fact, most cases have been thrown out for lack of evidence.
Thus far, the IEBC has issued nomination certificates to most candidates and it cannot turn around to withdraw them. The horse has bolted and the rest of the conversation is rhetoric.
We reiterate that public service should be a preserve of persons of high moral standing. Those with criminal records and questionable history must be locked out of office. But the way we are going around this is hopeless. The EACC’s submission and the IEBC’s threat are mere charades; we need a pragmatic approach.