10 ways the 2022 general election could be historic - Beaking Kenya News

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Wednesday, 10 February 2021

10 ways the 2022 general election could be historic


Other than being projected to be the most competitive, Kenya’s 2022 General Election leaves no doubt that it will be historic on many fronts, judging from the variables presenting themselves.

The expected record high number of candidates seeking various elective positions and the fact that it will be the first time in the country’s history a sitting deputy president will be seeking to succeed his boss, are some of the features that make the election stand out.

The election will be seeking to have the first implementation of a requirement of a degree for candidates seeking election since the law was enacted in 2012.

It will also be the first time 23 county governors, who have served their two terms, will be seeking political survival by trying out other elective seats.

Uhuru and Ruto

President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto display winners' certificates at the Bomas of Kenya on October 30, 2017 after IEBC declared the presidential election results.

File | Nation Media Group

Expensive election

The expected high number of candidates means that the election, the third under the 2010 constitution, will also be expensive.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati has already projected that close to 20,000 candidates are expected to contest for the six elective positions that have a cumulative 1,882 vacancies.

The figure would be 6,000 more than the total number of candidates in the 2017 elections.

Some 14,524 candidates vied for various seats in the last elections, sponsored by 40 political parties as well as independents.

United Democratic Alliance

United Democratic Alliance [UDA] headquarters, branded Hustler Center, in Nairobi. The party is associated with Deputy President William Ruto.

File | Nation Media Group

Registered parties

By this month, 71 parties have been registered, seven more than those listed in 2017, and hundreds of applications are being considered.

The six positions under the 2010 Constitution to be contested include presidential (1), governorship (47), senatorial (47), member of the National Assembly representing single-member constituencies (290), county woman representative (47) and member of the county assembly (1,450).

Under the constitution, candidates are either sponsored by political parties or run as independents.

With the surge in the number of candidates, it means an increase in the number of political parties.

With the expected high number of candidates, there is every likelihood that quite a number will go to extra dubious lengths to acquire qualifications, including buying fake academic papers.

Expose academic fraud

However, Mr Chebukati warns that IEBC will work closely with the Kenya National Qualification Authority (KNQA) to expose academic fraud among the candidates.

“We shall work together to ensure that only valid and genuine qualifications are used in the electoral process in Kenya,” Mr Chebukati says, noting that the issue of fake academic qualifications every election year has become a problem. 

A comparative analysis with the previous elections shows that 14,524 candidates (party sponsored and independents) competed for the six positions under the 2017 election and 12,776 did so in 2013.

The 2007 election conducted under the old constitution had a record 17,887 candidates, with only three positions contestable. They included presidential, parliamentary and councillor. In 2007 there were 144 registered parties out of which 106 fielded candidates. The subsequent reforms forced most parties that could not meet stringent requirements to fold up.

In the country’s electoral history, never has a vice-president succeeded their boss in an election. Daniel Moi succeeded President Jomo Kenyatta, who died in office.

DP William Ruto

DP William Ruto who is eyeing the presidency in 2022. In Kenya’s electoral history, never has a vice-president succeeded their boss in an election. Daniel Moi succeeded President Jomo Kenyatta, who died in office.

File | Nation Media Group

William Ruto

As the 2022 election draws near, Deputy President William Ruto is hoping to beat all odds and be the man to take over from his boss — President Uhuru Kenyatta.

However, President Kenyatta has reminded his deputy that Mzee Moi was full of respect for his father and had all the patience and perseverance.

Heshima sio utumwa (respect is not slavery), President Kenyatta said in Kabarak, Nakuru, during the first memorial service of the late Moi, in an apparent dig at his deputy, whom he has accused for starting early campaigns to succeed him.

“He (Moi) served my father for 17 years with all the respect, until his time came and he served Kenyans for 24 years and he left in respect. He respected Kibaki even though he was not his choice,” the President said.

Mr Kenyatta was President Moi’s choice in the 2002 elections that saw Mwai Kibaki win with a landslide.

“The arrogance that we see in today’s leadership raises many questions as to the future of this country. Heshima na unyenyekevu, na utulivu wako, Mungu atakuonekania (respect, humility and calmness is critical in leadership and if you possess them, God will reward you),” said the President.

William Ruto

DP Ruto’s campaign massage for the 2022 elections has been that of “dynasties versus hustlers” which has not gone down well with the President.

File | Nation Media Group

‘Dynasties versus hustlers’

DP Ruto’s campaign massage for the 2022 elections has been that of “dynasties versus hustlers” which has not gone down well with the President, who has warned that such campaign sloganeering has the danger of sliding the country into a class war.

But even as DP Ruto takes his campaigns a notch higher, it will be interesting to see if he will be crowned the nation’s fifth President. 

In 1964, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga became Kenya’s vice-president under Jomo Kenyatta. However, in 1966, he resigned from the government to form an opposition group — the Kenya People’s Union (KPU).

The party faced government harassment and some of its leaders were jailed.

Even though Mr Odinga harboured presidential ambitions, he did not get the opportunity. He was jailed and his party banned.

Moi and Saitoti

Kenya's second President Daniel arap Moi (2nd left) with his then Vice-President George Saitoti (left). Moi chose Uhuru Kenyatta as his successor in 2002, sidestepping Saitoti. Uhuru lost to Mwa Kiabki in the 2002 presidential election.

File | Nation Media Group

Saitoti’s defiance

Of the vice-presidents that served under President Moi, only George Saitoti, now deceased, showed signs of wanting to succeed his boss. He however, did not last in office.

“Friendship and leadership are two different things,” Mr Moi said in 2002, recognising the fact that even though Mr Saitoti was his friend, he was not fit to succeed him.

Mr Moi already had his eye on Mr Kenyatta.

Mr Saitoti’s defiance led to his sacking as vice-president and minister for Home Affairs.

He would later join hands with other renegade Cabinet ministers who opposed Mr Moi’s choice of Mr Kenyatta as successor — Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka, among others, to form the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) alongside Mr Kibaki.

Narc would go on to win the 2002 presidential elections with a landslide.

In the run up to the 2013 elections, Kalonzo Musyoka did not seek to succeed his boss President Kibaki, but instead decided to be Mr Odinga’s running mate in the election that was won by Mr Kenyatta.

Uhuru and Raila handshake

President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga’s handshake in 2018, after the disputed 2017 presidential vote, has scrambled the political landscape and blurred the line between the ruling party and opposition.

File | Nation Media Group

Uhuru-Raila handshake

President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga’s handshake after the disputed 2017 presidential vote has also scrambled the political landscape and blurred the line between the ruling party and opposition.

And with DP Ruto and Mr Odinga widely expected to be the main presidential contenders, the campaigns are already exposing the confusion with the DP increasingly appearing an outsider in a government he helped form.

Mr Odinga, who has run in previous elections as an opposition candidate, is fighting to distance himself from the incumbency arising from his close ties with the President.

The possibility of a faction of the ruling party allied to the president forming a coalition with opposition party, ODM, against a rival faction of Jubilee led by the DP that is expected to run on United Democratic Alliance will be another first.

Academic qualifications

The implementation of Section 22 (1) (b) of the Elections Act, which prescribes minimum academic qualifications of those seeking elective seats has been the most challenging part of the law.

The section provides that members of parliament and the national and county level possess a certificate, diploma or other post-secondary school qualification acquired after a period of at least three months’ study, recognised in the country.

The law goes on to provide that a person may be nominated as a candidate for election as president, deputy president, county governor or deputy county governor only if the person is the holder of a degree from a university recognised in Kenya.

The implementation of this section has been delayed twice.

Just before the 2013 General Election, the court exempted the 2013 elections from the application of the section, following a petition. The court ruled that the section will apply in the 2017 elections. MPs would later amend the law to comply with the court ruling.

A new section was inserted to have the implementation of the law delayed to 2017.   

“For the purposes of the first elections under the Constitution, Section 22(1) (b) save for the position of the president, the deputy president, the governor and the deputy governor, shall not apply for the elections of the offices of Parliament and county assembly representatives,” the new section reads.

This meant that those seeking senatorial, National Assembly and county assembly seats were exempted from the requirements of the law.

The law was again postponed ahead of the 2017 General Election to 2022.

Mr Barasa Nyukuri, a governance expert, says MPs should not be allowed to delay the application of the law in the coming elections.

“It was understandable when they delayed the application of the law in the 2013 General Election. The argument then was that those who didn’t have the qualifications needed time to study so as to acquire the documents,” Mr Nyukuri says.

“It was widely viewed that five years of their first term under the new Constitution were enough to get the academic qualifications. But ahead of the 2017 elections, they conspired to have the law delayed again. We are telling them, they should not try to play similar games in 2022,” he adds.

Mr Nyukuri notes that by now, anyone seeking to contest a political seat should know that a university degree, diploma or certificate is a requirement of the law,” he adds.

Last-term governors

The 2022 election is also giving governors some sleepless nights as to which political career they should take when their two terms in office come to an end.

The Constitution limits the county bosses to two terms of five years each in office.

Mombasa Governor Ali Hassam Joho, who is among the governors pondering their next political move, says he will be seeking to be the country’s president.

“I will seek to be the president of this country when the time comes,” Mr Joho says, noting that he will have to go through the rigours of getting the ticket of his ODM party.

But to get the ticket, Mr Joho must first of all deal with the party leader — Mr Raila Odinga, who even though he is yet to officially announce his bid, has shown every indication that his name will be on the presidential ballot.

“My party has already placed adverts inviting applications for those who want to be its presidential candidate. I want to announce that I will be among those to apply for that position,” Mr Joho, who is also ODM’s deputy party leader, added.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya (ODM), whose term is also coming to an end, is among those who will be seeking the Orange party’s ticket for presidency.

Kisii governor James Ongwae is in a similar predicament.

“I am studying the political situation in the country first. When the right time comes, I will make my ambitions clear,” says Mr Ongwae.


If the proposals in Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) document seeking to amend the Constitution are implemented, they will also change the conduct of next year’s elections.

New features will include elections in an extra 70 constituencies and pre-election coalition agreements will incorporate sharing out of prime minister and two deputy premiers seats.

Senior politicians are expected to run for National Assembly seats with an eye on the prime minister’s post whose holder will be elected from the party or coalition of parties with the majority in the House. 

The runners up in the presidential election take over the leadership of the official opposition in the National Assembly rather than be left out of power as has been the case.

MCAs who want to vie for higher seats will also hope BBI is implemented as it includes them among State officers who are not compelled to resign their seats to contest in elections.

Gatundu North MP Wanjiku Kibe is fighting in court to keep her seat after her election was nullified on grounds that she had not resigned her MCA seat when she ran for the constituency seat.

Why next year’s elections could be historic

• Projected record number of candidates for all seats. About 6, 000 more than those fielded in 2017.

• Requirement that candidates for MP and MCA have a university degree

• 23 second-term governors exploring other seats.

• A Deputy President fighting to succeed his boss in a race for the nation’s fifth president.

• Presumptive main presidential contenders, DP Ruto and Mr Odinga, will both fight the incumbency tag.

• Expected that a faction of the ruling party allied to the president could be in a coalition with opposition party, ODM, against a rival faction of Jubilee.

• If BBI is implemented, constituency elections will be held in an extra 70 constituencies.

• Should constitutional amendments succeed, coalitions will deposit power sharing agreements that include position of prime minister.

• Losing presidential candidate will be designated official leader of opposition with State trappings of power if BBI constitutional reforms are enacted.

• If BBI passes, MCAs will be spared the requirement to resign their seats before contesting for other posts in next year’s polls.

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