A lobby group, the National Council of NGO’s, has said it aims to block all candidates at the next election who fail to meet the ‘integrity test’ as required under the new constitution. It sounds laudable in some respects but the Kenya Forum has its concerns. The integrity test in the new constitution (Chapter 6) requires those standing for elective positions to be cleared by the Kenya Revenue Authority, the Higher Education Loans Board, the National Intelligence Service, and the Ethics and Corruption Commission, so there’s a mechanism in place through which the assessment of candidates can be made.
NEW CONSTITUTION AND ‘INTEGRITY TEST’: KEN WAFULA, YOU’VE BEEN ‘MENTIONED’…
The chairman of the National Council of NGO, Ken Wafula, who is also the head of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, says the lobby group will work with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and the organizations mentioned above to ‘conduct citizen based vetting processes for prospective candidates’. According to Wafula, anyone ‘mentioned’ (at least he didn’t trot out that tired old phrase “adversely mentioned”) in the Ndungu Report on Land, the Akiwumi and Kiliuku Commission reports on tribal violence, the Waki Commission on Post-Election Violence, the Ouko murder reports, and the reports on Goldenberg, Anglo Leasing and Triton, and for good measure, anyone named in the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission report whenever it turns up, will be barred from standing for public office.
KENYA NEWS: “WE INTEND TO PLAY IT HARD…”
“NGOs and civil society will no longer play its traditional role of dispensing civic education to the public and stepping aside to let immoral politicians confuse and mislead voters”, Ken Wafula declared. “We intend to play it hard by disseminating civic education and guide the masses on whom to vote right from the county to the national political offices”, Wafula continued. To this end Wafula has ‘directed’ all NGOs, civil society groups and ‘social movements’ across the country to ‘form consortia’ and begin ‘dialogues’ with all sections of the electorate ‘to prepare them for the election’, and he want members of the public to file petitions to stop politicians of ‘questionable character’ from standing in the election. So why the Kenya Forum’s concerns about Ken Wafula’s declaration?
IF PREVIOUS REPORTS ARE ANYTHING TO GO BY…
First, regular readers will know that we have serious doubts about the validity of some previous reports and investigations, for example those covering the murder of Dr Robert Ouko (start with‘The Murder of Dr Robert Ouko: Why It Matters and What Really Happened’, 6 Feb. 2012), and previous commission reports (for example, ‘The Kenya Human Rights Commission Report (Part 5) – Kiluku, Akiwumi, Tribal Clashes and the Faces of Impunity’, 12 Sept. 2011).
INNOCENT UNTIL PROVED GUILTY?
Second, and very importantly, being ‘mentioned’ in a report or investigation doesn’t make a person guilty! Mr Wafula of all people should know that our new constitution guarantees citizens the right that they are innocent until proved otherwise. To act otherwise may be ‘democracy’ Mr Wafula but it is against ‘human rights’. Third, and perhaps the Forum is being somewhat cynical here, we suspect that ultimately Ken Wafula and his friends will mention only those politicians of ‘questionable character’ who just happen to come from one side of the political divide. Finally, and again cynically, the Forum is confident however, that those groups that make up the National Council of NGOs will receive funding from the Americans and the British to help them “guide the masses”.