By PETER OPIYO
Prime Minister Raila Odinga has opposed the new provision requiring MPs to have university degrees.
The PM also criticised MPs for amending the Political Parties Act to allow party hopping without necessarily having the affected MPs resign from their parliamentary seats.
The changes are contained in the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Ammendments) Bill, 2012, which was passed by Parliamentb last week. He said he had consulted with President Kibaki and agreed that the amendments infringed on the rights of Kenyans.
“I did consult with the President on this before and he knew I was going to make this statement. We are in general agreement that the amendments were unconstitutional and infringe on the rights of Kenyans,” Raila said.
Raila, who was in Russia at the time, said the university degree requirement is discriminatory as only a negligible population of the nation possess university degrees. The requirement, he said would also lock out majority of young people from seeking elective positions.
“Currently, less than two per cent of Kenyans have a university education. Kenya cannot now turn round on the people that the country has been unable to provide with educational qualifications and punish them for lacking those qualifications,” said the PM.
MPs proposed the amendment to the Elections Act, arguing that Parliament needs quality leadership to be able to effectively practice oversight given that cabinet secretaries would be individuals with high qualifications and experts in their fields.
Transport Minister Amos Kimunya and Finance Minister Njeru Githae, argued the Salaries and Remuneration Commission would peg salaries on qualifications and it was prudent if MPs go to school.
But Raila said this would lock out the youth as at 22 years of age they will not have obtained a degree.
“The amendment will mean that majority of the Youth cannot have the opportunity that as a country intended to give our youth as they will be locked out of taking up leadership positions,” said the PM.
He said the attempt to allow party hopping does not augur well with the principles of the Constitution and will subvert democratic will of the electorate.