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Senator Mbito’s bill seeks to bar governors from elections

By People Daily
Friday, September 25th, 2020 00:00 | 3 mins read
Trans Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito.

Hillary Mageka and Eric Wainaina 

Governors serving final terms but intend to vie for other elective seats in 2022 could be in for a rude shock if a proposed law seeking to bar them from contesting immediately after expiry of their reign is adopted by the Senate.

Trans Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito has drafted a bill that seeks to amend Article 180 of the Constitution to bar a person who has served as governor for two consecutive terms from contesting for elective office for five years.

A total of 22 governors are serving their second and final terms and some have declared intentions to vie for the presidency while others are said to be eyeing the Senate and the National Assembly position.

But the bill, which Mbito says will enhance the rule of law and accountability in the devolved units, will automatically lock them out, if adopted.

“A person who has served as a county governor shall not be eligible to be elected as the President, MPs or MCAs within the first five years immediately after the end of the term of service,” reads the proposal in part.

Mbito said by the time the governors would be exiting offices after serving a second term, their actions would certainly be under investigations whose “outcomes would have a bearing on whether a former holder of the office of county governor would be suitable to hold any other elective office”. 

“The consequence of the bill would be two-fold: In the first instance, oversight bodies would have adequate time to inquire into any matters arising from the tenure of a former governor and in the second instance, voters would have a reference point in making an informed choice as to the suitability of a former governor to hold another elective office,” reads the Bills memorandum.

Governors who have declared interest in alternative political posts after 2022 include Mombasa’s Hassan Joho, Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Mwangi Wa Iria (Murang’a), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Amason Kingi (Kilifi) who have announced that they could seek bigger seats in 2022, with some of them being categorical they will go for the presidency.

Uasin Gishu’s Jackson Mandago is reported to be considering swapping positions with Senator Margaret Kamar with local leaders led by Ainabkoi MP William Chepkut pushing him to go for the seat

Those linked to parliamentary seats include Joseph Chepkwony (Kericho), Embu’s Martin Wambora (Senate), Busia’s Sospeter Ojaamong who is reportedly eyeing the Teso South parliamentary seat, Kisii’s James Ongwae (Kitutu Chache North), Migori’s Okoth Obado (Uriri) and Narok’s Samuel Tunai (Kilgoris). 

Governors who are serving their last terms but have not announced their next move are Josphat Nanok (Turkana), Elgeyo Marakwet’s Alex Tolgos, Salim Mvurya (Kwale), Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia), Cornel Rasanga (Siaya), Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu), John Nyagarama (Nyamira) and Ali Roba (Mandera). 

Yesterday, Mbito told People Daily his amendments were targeting governors who are allegedly corrupt and want to vie for other elective seats to protect ill-gotten wealth.

“My feeling is that many governors who are serving last term want to vie for other positions just to cover up their past mistakes,” Mbito claimed.

However, members of the Justice, Legal and Human Rights committee where Mbito’s proposal has been committed, have expressed reservations, saying though the intentions are good, it would face serious hurdles because it tries to limit rights of a person to contest an election.

“I don’t think this will see the light of day by virtue of Article 38 of the Constitution.

We cannot introduce an amendment that appears to contradict the Constitution,” Minority Chief Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jr (Makueni) said yesterday when the committee met to consider the bill.

He added that politics, just like any other careers, has progression and those seeking to progress in their careers should not be stopped. 

Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni, who chairs the Justice committee said rights under Article 38  and the Bill of Rights cannot be limited, a suggestion that he would be opposing the amendments.