The member of parliament for Embakasi East constituency and former UON student leader Hon Babu Owino has petitioned parliament to repeal Universities (amendment act) that was signed in to law by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2016.
The act resulted in a change in student leadership structure and the election process, that has seen student leaders being elected in by delegates as opposed to the former process which allowed the popular vote.
This was done to bring sanity into the universities, which has always been termed as a violent process. It is a process that some university officials like Prof John Akama the Vice Chancellor for Kisii University embraced, he said in a past interview that, ” the system has finally brought sobriety, tranquillity and peace in the universities. Elections are no longer marred by violence. The system has managed to thwart external interference in students politics.” this views, however, are not shared by the lawmaker who wrote to speaker Justin Muturi requesting for the amendment of the bill, to reverse the changes made in the act.
According to Hon. Owino, the current system is open to manipulation by the universities authorities who might impose their preferred candidate to students.
Babu Owino says, ” I would like the system of elections through the electoral college at the universities to be scrapped off and the popular vote to be reintroduced, the current system is seen as an extension of the university’s administration. It is therefore crippled and cannot fight for students rights. The establishment of electoral colleges based on academic departments, schools or faculties was not anchored on any law and it has brought complexities, confusion and bias in its implementation.”
Hon. Babu Owino said the university administrations are taking advantage of the situation to come up with their own rules and urges parliament to involve itself in the implementation and interpretation of this particular law or have it repealed.
If his proposal is taken into consideration, we are likely to see the return of a system that allows students to elect their leaders directly in which they are mostly determined by their popularity.
The Lawmaker says he wants students to exercise their democratic rights to free and regular elections.