Moses Wetang’ula Wants Kenya’s EALA Representatives Elected Directly By The People 

By The Weekly Vision

A proposal by National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula for the direct election of East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) legislators by voters from the respective member states has been met with mixed reactions. Many Kenyans agree with Wetangula that EALA MPs ought to be elected by direct universal suffrage by citizens of the EAC member states as opposed to being appointed by the Executive, Electoral College, or Parliament.

According to the rules that guide the elections of the nine EALA members from Kenya, political parties share the nine slots according to their parliamentary strength. In the current EALA parliament, the Kenya Kwanza Coalition was allocated 5 slots, while Azimio was allocated 4 slots. Speaker Wetang’ula further noted that involving voters in each of the seven member states will create understanding among citizens about the regional block operations as the candidates traverse their respective countries in search of votes.

“In the spirit of integration of the East African Community, it is high time member states changed the mode of electing Members of Parliament to the regional block so that the citizens can be involved directly and also to attract serious and popular candidates,” he said.

The ruling elite and the political party’s top leadership in Kenya have, however, rubbished Mr Wetangula’s proposal and dismissed it, saying it is not practical. Analysts, however, say that although the proposal is good for democracy, the political class will never allow it to happen.

It is important to note that most of the political party leadership uses the chance to reward their allies with the EALA slots, and letting go of that privilege to nominate persons of their choice will not be attainable. ODM leader Raila Odinga has nominated his elder brother, Dr Oburu Odinga, in the past after he lost the ODM nominations for the Bondo parliamentary seats. In the same year, Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka also nominated his son, Kennedy Kalonzo. In the current EALA parliament, the top party leaders used the opportunity to reward political allies by giving them a soft landing after failing to be elected into office.

Azimio leader Raila Odinga again nominated his daughter, Winnie Odinga, while Kalonzo also nominated for the second time his son Kennedy Kalonzo. Although the two nominations raised hue and cry, they whipped parliamentarians who voted for their kin to Arusha.

It is such selfish political greed by political party leaders that informs Mr Wetangula’s demand for EALA MPs to be directly elected by voters and not by Parliament. This proposal might not see the light of day, as candidates willing to be elected EALA MPs must conduct countrywide campaigns to be elected. Politicians know that conducting countrywide campaigns will be to the advantage of those with deep pockets.