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Democracy FAQs

FAQs

National Government

1) After the 2012 election what will make up the National Government of Kenya?

The National Government of Kenya will consist of the Cabinet and the Parliament.

2) What is the Cabinet?

The Cabinet comprises the President, deputy President, Attorney General who is the legal advisor to the government and Cabinet Secretaries (formerly known as Ministers). The Cabinet Secretaries shall not be less than 14 and not more than 22.

3) Who appoints Cabinet Secretaries? Are they MPs?

The Cabinet Secretaries are appointed by the President with the approval of the National Assembly. The Cabinet Secretaries are appointed from persons who are not members of parliament; the cabinet secretaries shall not be Members of Parliament. This makes it possible for Cabinet secretaries to be appointed based on their expertise rather than attempts to reward loyal members of parliament as was the case in the former Constitution.

4) What makes up Parliament?

The parliament consists of the National Assembly and the Senate.

5) What is the National Assembly?

The National Assembly comprises 290 members elected by registered voters from constituencies, 47 women elected by registered voters from the counties, 12 members nominated by parliamentary political parties to represent special interests of youth, persons with disabilities and workers, and the Speaker of the National Assembly. The members of the National Assembly represent the people of constituencies and as well as special interests (youth, women, persons with disabilities and workers) in the National Assembly.

6) What are the roles of the Members of the National Assembly?

The roles of the Members of the National Assembly are to:

  1. Make laws,
  2. Determine how resources are allocated between national and county governments,
  3. Review the conduct of the state officers that include the president and deputy president,
  4. Make and approve declarations of war,
  5. Exercise oversight over national revenue,
  6. Debate and provide solutions to issues that concern the people and exercise oversight over the state organs. State organs include commissions, offices and bodies established under the Constitution. The people can approach their representatives in the National Assembly to ask questions and debate issues that affect them in the Assembly.

7) What is the Senate?

The Senate consists of 47 members elected by registered voters of the counties, 16 women members nominated by political parties, 2 youth members (one man and one woman), two persons with disabilities (one man and one woman) and the Speaker of the Senate.

8) What are the Roles of the Members of the Senate?

The members of the Senate represent the counties and their essence is to serve and protect the interests of the counties and counties governments. The roles of the members of Senate are to:

  1. Debate and approve laws that concern the counties,
  2. Determine the allocation of national revenues to the counties,
  3. Exercise oversight over state officers and determine any resolution to remove the President or deputy President. The people can approach their representatives in Senate to ask questions and debate issues that affect them in the Senate.

County Government

1) What is the purpose of the county government? What will it comprise of?

Devolution is intended to give powers to communities to govern themselves, manage their affairs democratically and ensure fair distribution of resources (Article 174). The devolution is carried out at county levels through county governments. The county government for each of the 47 counties consists of a county assembly and county executive committee.

2) What are the county governments required to do?

The county governments are required to take their services closer to the people in an efficient manner. The county governments are required to:

  1. Uphold principles that ensure they have separation of powers;
  2. Have reliable sources of revenue to enable them to govern and deliver services effectively to the people; and
  3. Ensure that no more than two thirds of the members in their representative bodies are of the same gender.

3) What does the County Assembly consist of?

The County Assembly comprises members elected by registered voters of the wards, a number of special seats necessary to ensure that no more than two thirds of members in the assembly are of one gender, members of marginalised groups that include persons with disabilities and youth and the Speaker of the County Assembly. The Parliament is required to enact law that will ensure representation of the marginalised groups. Article 177 that lists membership to County Assembly does not state the numbers of its membership.

4) What is the role of the County Assembly?

The role of the Assembly is to make laws that will ensure county government carry out its functions effectively. The roles of the county government are spelt out in the fourth schedule of the Constitution and they include:

  1. Provisions of transport at county levels;
  2. Trade development and regulation within county;
  3. County planning and development;
  4. County health services; and
  5. Provision of agricultural services within the county.

The roles of the Assembly also include:

  1. Exercise of oversight on the County Executive Committee;
  2. Approving plans and policies of the County Executive Committee; and
  3. Approving persons to be appointed as members of the County Executive Committee.

The County Assemblies are required to conduct their business in public and enhance public participation while carrying out their functions.

5) What is the County Executive Committee?

The County Executive Committee comprises the county governor, the deputy county governor and members appointed by the county governor with the approval of the County Assembly.

The County Executive Committee members appointed will not be members from the County Assembly. This is intended to enhance separation of powers between the Assembly and the Executive Committee. As in the case of National Assembly, it is intended that persons appointed as members of Executive Committee are appointed based on their expertise.

5) What are the roles of the County Executive Committee?

The functions of the Committee are to:

  1. Implement county legislation;
  2. Implement laws enacted by the national government, and
  3. Manage the functions of the county administrations and its departments.

The County Executive Committee is required to provide to the County Assembly regular reports in matters relating to the County. The members of the Committee are answerable to the governor who is the chief executive. The county governor and deputy county governor shall not hold offices for more than two terms.

The 2012 Election

1) Who will I be asked to vote for in the 2012 election?

There will be a number of separate leadership positions you will be asked to vote on in the 2012 election. These are:

  1. The President of the country, who will be running with a named Deputy Presidential Candidate
  2. A Member of Parliament to represent your constituency in the national assembly
  3. A Governor for your county, who will be running with a named Deputy Governor Candidate
  4. A member of the county assembly to represent the ward in which you live
  5. A Senator to represent your county in the national assembly
  6. A woman Member of Parliament to represent your county in the National Assembly, with specific focus on women’s issues

In total you will have six votes to make.

Standards and Qualifications of Elected Officials

1) What standard should elected representatives be expected to uphold?

In the course of carrying out their work, the state officers are required to be objective and impartial while making decisions; their decisions should not be influenced by nepotism, favouritism and any improper motives or corrupted practices.

The Constitution provides that every citizen has a right to access information held by the State or another person. The State is required to publish and make public any important information affecting the country. This means that members of the public can hold the state officers accountable, and detect corruption or improper motives by state officers once they have proper and accurate information in their hands.

The State officers are also required to service the people selflessly. The selfless service is demonstrated by:

  1. Honesty in carrying out their duties;
  2. Declaration of any public interest that may conflict with public duties;
  3. Accountability to the public for their decisions and actions; and
  4. Discipline and commitment in service to the people.

2) How should elected officials conduct themselves?

The State officers are required to behave whether in public and private life in a manner that avoids conflict of personal interests and public duties. The State officers are also required not to compromise any official interest in favour of personal interest and not to demean the office they hold.

State officers who do not conduct themselves as required shall be subjected to disciplinary proceedings that may have them dismissed or removed from the office. State officers that have been removed from the office are disqualified from holding any other state office.

The State officers are required to be transparent in their management of finances. The State officers should not maintain a bank account outside Kenya except in accordance to laws of Kenya which are to be enacted by parliament.

The State officers are prohibited from seeking or accepting personal loan or benefit in circumstances that compromise their integrity. The State officers are required to deliver to the State any gift or donation they have received during public or official occasion unless they have been exempted under laws that are to be enacted by parliament.

3) What responsibilities are common to all elected officials?

The authority of the State officers is a public trust and they are required to exercise it in a manner that is in accordance with the Constitution. As such they have to:

  1. Respect, uphold and defend the Constitution;
  2. Demonstrate respect for the people;
  3. Bring honour to the nation and dignity to the office; and
  4. Promote public confidence in the integrity of the office.

In the course of carrying out their responsibilities the representatives are required to adhere to the national values and principles of governance, while applying the Constitution; making or implementing public policy decisions; and enacting or applying any law.

The national values and the principles of governance include: patriotism, national unity, devolution of power, the rule of law, democracy, participation of the people, human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination, protection of the marginalised, good governance, integrity, transparency, accountability and sustainable development.

The Bill of Rights in the Constitution lists and protects the human rights and fundamental freedoms of people of Kenya and community. The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to promote social justice and the realisation of potential of all human beings. One of the ways to ensure that social justice is promoted and potential of all human being is realised by ensuring the needs of vulnerable groups that include older members of the society, persons with disabilities, children, youth, women, members of minority or marginalised groups, are met. The elected representatives have a duty to ensure that the needs of these vulnerable persons are met.

The Parliament is required to enact laws that will promote the representation of youth, women, persons with disabilities and members of minority or marginalised groups in Parliament.

4) What are the qualifications and disqualifications for election to the National Assembly?

The Constitution spells out the qualifications for a person to be elected as Member of the National Assembly. A person qualifies to be elected as Member of the National Assembly, if :-

  1. Is a registered voter;
  2. Satisfies any educational, moral and ethical requirements spelt out in the Constitution or as defined by law enacted by Parliament;
  3. Is nominated by a political party or is an independent candidate that should be supported by at least 1,000 registered voters in the Constituency.

In addition to these qualifications, Chapter Six of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 on leadership and integrity sets out in detail how State officers should conduct themselves and their responsibilities. The Constitution defines members of the National Assembly as State officers. What this means is that persons seeking to be members of the National Assembly should conduct themselves as required in the Chapter Six and as well be capable of discharging the responsibilities of a State officer. Therefore it is important for citizens to examine whether persons who come asking for their votes meet the requirements in Chapter Six and uphold the national values in Article 10, before they vote for them, rather than examine them once in office and complain!

The Constitution also spells out what can disqualify a person from being elected as Member of the Senate. A person is disqualified, if:-

  1. Is a State officer or other public officer, other than member of the Senate or National Assembly;
  2. Is a member of the County Assembly;
  3. Is of unsound mind;
  4. Has not been a citizen of Kenya for at least 10 years immediately from the date the person is seeking election;
  5. Was a member of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission 5 years immediately from the date the person is seeking elections;
  6. Has misused State office or contravened provisions in Chapter Six of the Constitution; and is serving at least 6 months imprisonment at the time of registration as parliamentary candidate or on the date of election.

Additionally, a person who is serving as a state officer apart from as Member of the National Assembly or the Senate is disqualified from being elected as Member of Senate.

However, a person who is subjected to a sentence of at least six months imprisonment or found to have misused public office is not disqualified, if possibility of appeal or review of the relevant sentence or decision has not been exhausted. This is on account that the Constitution guarantees every person has right to fair hearing which includes the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and every person has a right to administrative action that is procedurally fair, lawful, efficient and speedy. Until all possibility of appeal or review has been exhausted then a person is presumed innocent.

5) What are the Qualifications and Disqualifications for Election as Member of the Senate?

The Constitution spells out the qualifications for a person to be elected as Member of the Senate . A person qualifies to be elected as Member of the Senate, if :-

  1. Is a registered voter;
  2. Satisfies any educational, moral and ethical requirements spelt out in the Constitution or as defined by law enacted by Parliament;
  3. Is nominated by a political party or is an independent candidate that should be supported by at least 2,000 registered voters in the County. In addition to these qualifications, Chapter Six of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 on leadership and integrity sets out in detail how State officers should conduct themselves and their responsibilities. The Constitution defines members of the Senate as state officers. What this means is that persons seeking to be members of the Senate should conduct themselves as required in the Chapter Six and as well be capable of discharging the responsibilities of a State officer. Therefore it is important for citizens to examine whether persons who come asking for their votes meet the requirements in Chapter Six and uphold the national values in Article 10, before they vote for them, rather than examine them once in office and complain!

The Constitution also spells out what can disqualify a person from being elected as Member of the Senate. A person is disqualified, if:-

  1. Is a State officer or other public officer, other than member of the Senate or National Assembly;
  2. Is a member of the County Assembly;
  3. Is of unsound mind;
  4. Has not been a citizen of Kenya for at least 10 years immediately from the date the person is seeking election;
  5. Was a member of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission 5 years immediately from the date the person is seeking elections;
  6. Has misused State office or contravened provisions in Chapter Six of the Constitution; and is serving at least 6 months imprisonment at the time of registration as parliamentary candidate or on the date of election.

Additionally, a person who is serving as a state officer apart from as Member of the National Assembly or the Senate is disqualified from being elected as Member of Senate.

However, a person who is subjected to a sentence of at least six months imprisonment or found to have misused public office is not disqualified, if possibility of appeal or review of the relevant sentence or decision has not been exhausted. This is on account that the Constitution guarantees every person has right to fair hearing which includes the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and every person has a right to administrative action that is procedurally fair, lawful, efficient and speedy . Until all possibility of appeal or review has been exhausted then a person is presumed innocent.

6) What are the Qualifications and Disqualification for Election as President?

The Constitution spells out the qualifications for a person to be elected as President. A person qualifies to be elected as President, if :-

  1. Is a registered voter;
  2. Is a citizen by birth
  3. Satisfies any educational, moral and ethical requirements spelt out in the Constitution or as defined by law enacted by Parliament ;
  4. Is nominated by a political party or is an independent candidate that should be supported by at least 2,000 registered voters from each of a majority of the counties.

The Constitution also spells out what can disqualify a person from being elected as President. A person is disqualified, if:-

  1. Is a State officer or other public officer, other than as a member of the Senate or National Assembly, President or Deputy President. This essence of this provision is to bar persons who are state officers such as judicial officers, principal secretaries, cabinet secretaries and civil servants from using their positions to seek elections as that would be amount to abuse of their offices.
  2. Is a member of the County Assembly;
  3. Is of unsound mind;
  4. Owes allegiance to a foreign state. The Constitution makes provision for a person to hold citizenship of Kenya and another State . However, ,a person who seeks to be elected as President cannot have dual citizenship and hence should only owe allegiance to the Kenyan state;
  5. Was a member of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission 5 years immediately from the date the person is seeking elections;
  6. Has misused State office or contravened provisions in Chapter Six of the Constitution; and is serving at least 6 months imprisonment at the time of registration as parliamentary candidate or on the date of election.

Additionally, a person who is serving as a state officer apart from as Member of the National Assembly or the Senate is disqualified from being elected as Member of Senate.

However, a person who is subjected to a sentence of at least six months imprisonment or found to have misused public office is not disqualified, if possibility of appeal or review of the relevant sentence or decision has been exhausted. This is on account that the Bill of Rights guarantees every person has right to fair hearing which includes the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and every person has a right to administrative action that is procedurally fair, lawful, efficient and speedy . Until all possibility of appeal or review has been exhausted then a person is presumed innocent.

The qualifications and disqualifications for a deputy president are similar to those of a president.