The Citizen Handbook


The Constitution of Kenya, 2010: The People’s Power


The Constitution of Kenya, 2010: My Constitution, My Future

Leadership & Good Governance

This section describes how the Constitution aims to revolutionize leadership and governance in the country. It outlines the principles and values that leaders are required to adhere to and the ways in which citizens can use them to evaluate the performance of their leaders.

Emphasis on Leadership

The Constitution includes specific qualifications for and the means to regulate leadership. Chapter Six emphasizes that public trust is the basis for leadership and authority given to state or public officials. This means that the people assign authority to a leader,and the leader is only the custodian of this authority. In this regard, citizens are responsible for directing how the state exercises its authority. This includes determining the requirements of those who seek leadership and the type of actions that disqualify people from leadership positions. Chapter Six of the Constitution exists to ensure that the priority of leaders is the service of their people and their nation. As such, leadership is an instrument of service in the constitution and not a means of personal enrichment or pride.

Authoritarian vs. Democratic Leadership

The quality of a country's capacity to lead is a key factor in determining good governance. In this context, active participation by citizens in governance is as important as having leaders who are accountable. It is important, therefore, to look briefly at the two most general types of leadership styles: (1) authoritarian leadership and (2) democratic leadership.
 ·         Authoritarian leadership is a style of leadership where the person in charge does not consult with her/his people or even with her/his colleagues when making decisions. In this type of leadership style, the leader believes that s/he has the right to decide what is best for her/his people. Authoritarian leaders are not tolerant of opposing views or differences of opinion, nor do they safeguard the civil and political rights of the people they lead.
 ·         Democratic leadership is a style of leadership where the leader acts in the interests of his/her people. S/he is prepared to make her/his-self  accountable to the people s/he serve and to the institutions they lead. This type of leadership encourages as many people as possible to be part of the decision making process. One way of being accountable to citizens is by not interfering with their right to organize and participate in the management of public affairs.

It is important to differentiate between authoritarian and democratic leadership because previous political leadership in the country used it as a way to create wealth quickly without much effort. People who run for public office sometimes do abuse positions of authority in order to enrich themselves through illegal deals, bribes and other corrupt practices. The Constitution no longer tolerates such poor leadership by elected officials. Instead, it requires leaders to uphold a certain set of morals, standards and integrity, and empowers citizens to question the actions and decisions of their leaders.

Oath of State Officers

In an effort to reinforce the importance of leadership and level of integrity expected of all those elected to serve positions of power, the Constitution requires newly elected state officers to take an oath upon the commencement of their term of service. The Third Schedule of the Constitution provides a series of oaths for State officers and positions of President, Deputy President, Cabinet Secretaries, Chief Justice, Court of Appeals and High Court Judges, members of Parliament and the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Senate.

Guiding Principles of Leadership and Integrity

The Constitution revolutionizes the standard of leadership of public and state officers by placing a strong emphasis on the importance of exercising honesty, transparency, and integrity. It stresses that the responsibility of representing the people of Kenya is a privilege and that individuals who fill this role must be dedicated to expressing their gratitude by ensuring that their actions meet the moral standards expressed in the Constitution.

Specifically, Chapter 6 of the Constitution includes a thorough explanation of the ways in which the characteristics of leadership and integrity should shape the actions and governance by leaders serving our people. The principles of leadership and integrity in the Constitution, therefore, should serve as guidelines for citizens to consult when electing their representatives.

Citizenship and Leadership

The Constitution links citizenship to several opportunities to hold public leadership positions. For example, only citizens may pursue an appointment as a state officer. The Constitution also prevents individuals holding dual citizenship from serving as state officers or members of the Kenya Defence Forces.

Conduct of State Officers

Article 75 of the Constitution gives an overview of the expected conduct of state officers in their service as leaders, their interactions with members of the public, and their private lives. Specifically, state officers are required to prevent personal interests from influencing or hindering their function and decision-making as leaders.

Article 75(2) outlines the consequences and penalties associated with violating the leadership and integrity obligations of a state officer. Furthermore, Article 76 explicitly prohibits state officers from absorbing public financial contributions, from having a bank account outside of the country, and from receiving loans that can potentially interfere with the integrity required of a state officer.

Restriction on State Officers

There are several prohibited activities of state officers outlined in Article 77 of the Constitution. For example, state officers may not pursue or accept any other form of employment or occupy any leadership position in a political party. The intention of Article 77 is to ensure a state officer remains focused solely on serving citizens in a manner that demonstrates honesty, integrity, and accountability.

Expected Conduct of State Officers

Article 75 (1) of the Constitution stipulates that “State officer shall behave, whether in public and official life, in private life, or in association with other persons, in a manner that avoids— (a) any conflict between personal interests and public or official duties; (b) compromising any public or official interest in favour of a personal interest; or (c) demeaning the office the officer holds.” Article 75 (1), The Constitution of Kenya, 2010

Leadership and Integrity Legislation

Article 80 of the Constitution directs Parliament to enact legislation on Chapter 6 of the Constitution on Leadership and Integrity. This legislation, according to the Constitution, should include provisions on enforcing Chapter Six as well as prescribing penalties for violators. Additionally, the Constitution directs Parliament to establish a commission for ethics and anti-corruption, which will assist in promoting and enforcing the principles of leadership and integrity.

The Leadership and Integrity Act (No. 19 of 2012), assented to on 27 August 2012, establishes procedures and mechanisms for the effective administration of Chapter Six of the Constitution. The Act also provides a general Leadership and Integrity Code for State officers, which covers such issues citizenship, public trust, and financial integrity.

Furthermore, the Act addresses personal behavioural issues of state officers like impartiality, bullying, and conduct of private affairs. It also outlines specific enforcement measures and penalties to ensure all state officers follow the Code. The Act has two Schedules: the First Schedule includes a “Self-Declaration Form” that must be completed by state officers, and the Second Schedule, which gives a list of "interests" all state officers should disclose publicly. This includes any existing contracts for goods and services held by a state officer, directorships in public or private companies, and land or property in their possession.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission

"Parliament shall enact legislation to establish an independent ethics and anti-corruption commission, which shall be and have the status and powers of a commission under Chapter Fifteen, for purposes of ensuring compliance with, and enforcement of, the provisions of this Chapter." Article 79, The Constitution of Kenya, 2010

Application & Implication

The Constitution provides clear principles on integrity for our leaders to follow no matter what level of government. The implications for our leaders are that they have clearly written values to guide them in their work and to hold them accountable in a realistic way. Similarly, the Constitution's principles on leadership and integrity arm you with the power to hold your leaders accountable. These principles are also something you can consult during the process of selecting an individual to represent you in government.

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