The upcoming 2022 general elections will not be a walk in the park for persons charged with corruption and other economic related crimes if the Members of Parliament approve the proposed changes to the laws on elections, leadership and integrity.
Political aspirants with graft active court cases will be barred from running for the position of President, Member of Parliament, or Member of the County Assembly (MCA) under the proposed amendments to the Elections Act and the Leadership and Integrity Act.
The Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2021 states that “a person is not qualified for nomination as a presidential candidate if the person has been formally charged in a court of law for an offence related to corruption or economic crimes and the case has not been finalised”
The legal principle holds that every person accused of any crime is considered innocent until proven guilty. As such, a prosecutor is required to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the person committed the crime if that person is to be convicted. Political aspirants have capitalised on this principle to get clearance from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
However, if the Bill sponsored by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi that seeks to amend sections 23, 24, and 25 of the Elections Act will be approved, this loophole that has allowed individuals charged with offences to seek elective seats despite the cases going on in court.
Around 15 serving MPs have ongoing graft and other economic crimes-related cases in court.
According Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, the best way to stop corruption is to stop corrupt people from getting into public office. The bill will go a long way to prevent political aspirants with questionable character to hold public office as well as instil a culture of ethics and integrity among the future aspirants.