Kenyans in every constituency elect a Member of Parliament every five years. Article 1 of the Constitution says that all sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya. The people may exercise their sovereign power either directly or through their democratically elected representatives.
Therefore, the people delegate this sovereign power under the Constitution to parliament as a state organ. A Member of Parliament forms one of the components of the legislative body that is parliament.
A Member of Parliament exercises this sovereign power at the national level. They play three key roles. These are the representation, legislation, and oversight. The fourth role, which cuts across the other three, is resource (budget) allocation.
For representation, they should promote the interests of the people who elected them. For legislation, they should make and amend laws in parliament. They should also play oversight over the Executive arm of the government and other state organs.
The oversight function ensures transparency and accountability. For budget allocation, they play a key role in resource sharing by determining what each government ministry, department, and agency gets.
There are two ways a person can become a member of parliament in Kenya: through election or by nomination (from political parties).
The term Member of Parliament (MP) refers to the Senators, Women Representatives, and MPs representing the Constituencies.
However, this article deals specifically with the qualifications for the members of the National Assembly elected to represent the Constituencies.
A Member of the National Assembly (MP) is eligible for election for a five-year term and can be re-elected as many times as possible since there are no term limits for MPs in Kenya.
Qualifications for a Member of Parliament in Kenya
To qualify as a potential candidate for the position of a Member of Parliament in Kenya, you must:
- be a Kenyan citizen for at least 10 years before the election;
- not hold dual citizenship (unless, according to IEBC, the citizenship of the other country has been obtained by operation of law without the capacity to opt-out);
- not owe allegiance to a foreign state;
- be a registered voter;
- be nominated by a Political Party or is an independent candidate.
- meet the statutory moral and ethical requirements under the Leadership and Integrity Act;
- not be a public officer or acting in any State of public office other than a Member of Parliament;
- not be an undischarged bankrupt;
- not be a person of unsound mind;
- not be subject to a sentence of imprisonment of at least six months from the date of registration of candidates or date of elections;
- not have been found to have abused or misused state or public office or contravened Chapter Six of the Constitution; and
- not have been dismissed or removed from public office for contravening the provisions of Articles 75, 76, 77 and 78 of the Constitution
To qualify for the position of a member of parliament in Kenya, you must also be at least 18 years of age.
Requirements for the position of a Member of Parliament in Kenya
A party candidate or an independent candidate should submit certain documents to IEBC during the nomination process. The party or independent candidate can also authorize an agent to do so on their behalf.
At the moment, a university degree is not a requirement for the position of an MP in Kenya.
The candidate should present a certified copy of a national identity card or a valid passport. Either should be the document the candidate used to register as a voter. The candidate should also submit a passport size photograph of himself or herself.
If the candidate was a public officer, he or she should submit a letter of discharge from their employer. The letter should confirm that he or she was not an employee six months before the election date. However, this requirement does not apply to any elected representatives.
For a party candidate, the candidate should submit to IEBC a nomination certificate from a fully registered political party. The political party should be the one nominating the candidate. An authorized official in the party should duly sign the letter.
The party or independent candidate, or their authorized agent, should submit a duly signed code of conduct. The Second Schedule of the Elections Act (2011) contains the electoral code of conduct.
Commission Nomination Form 15
The candidate or their authorized agent should also submit a duly filled Commission Nomination Form 15. The form should contain the following information:
- An original Statutory Declaration Form made no earlier than one month before the nomination day. This is in accordance with Regulation 18(3) of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012.
- An original Self-Declaration Form as prescribed in the First Schedule of the Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012. The form is in accordance with Regulation 46 of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012.
- the names of a proposer and a seconder who shall be registered voters. For a party candidate, the proposer and seconder must be members of the candidate’s party (Regulation 38(b) of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012). In the case of an Independent Candidate, the proposer and seconder must not be members of any political party (Regulation 39(c) of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012).
Additional requirements for Independent Candidates
Independent candidates must also meet some additional requirements to qualify to vie for the position of a member of the National Assembly in Kenya.
They should get a clearance certificate from the Registrar of Political Parties. The certificate should indicate that the person was not a member of any political party for the last three months before the election date. (Regulation 15(a) of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012).
The independent candidates should have a duly filled Form of Intention to Contest in the prescribed form. (Regulation 15(b) of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012)
Every independent candidate must have a soft and a hard copy of a list of at least 1000 supporters in the prescribed form. They should submit the list to the Constituency Returning Officer by a date IEBC prescribes.
A symbol the candidate intends to use during the election is also an additional requirement. IEBC should approve the symbol in accordance with Section 32 of the Elections Act, 2011.
The independent candidates should set up and maintain functioning offices within Kenya. Each of the offices must be available for IEBC to inspect by a certain date the Commission prescribes. The candidates should communicate the address (including physical address) of the offices to the Commission. (Regulation 20(1) and (2) of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012).
Nomination fees for the position of a Member of Parliament
The nomination fees should be in the form of a Banker’s Cheque payable to the IEBC. The fee is:
- KSh10,000 for a candidate who is a woman, a person with disability or youth. Youth means an adult below the age of 35 years.
- KSh20,000 for any other candidate