5 years in jail or Sh10b fine for causing chaos

By , People Daily Digital
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020 00:00 | 3 mins read
Irate voters at Ruiru Boys Secondary School in Kiambu burn ballot papers after Jubilee Party cancelled its nomination exercise on April 21, 2017. Photo/PD/FILE

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

Instigating chaos during political party primaries will land you in prison for five years or Sh10 million fine if a new Senate Bill is enacted.

The Political Parties Primaries Bill, 2020, proposes tough penalties for those who cause violence or bribe to influence the outcome of the party primaries.

As such, the bill proposed by Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura, seeks to bring to an end such intra-party political violence that has characterised polls since the advent of multi-party democracy. 

It also seeks to secure women against violence in which the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) says is a threat to the integrity of the electoral process.

According to the Bill, any person who directly or indirectly uses or threatens to use any force, violence including sexual violence and; offers or accepts a bribe commits an electoral offense.

“[Such a person] commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding Sh10 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both,” the Bill.

The offence also includes those who use or threatens, either directly or indirectly to inflict injury, damage, harm, or loss on or against a person during the primaries to induce or compel that person to support a particular aspirant or vote in a particular way or refrain from voting.

Further, the Bill seeks to bring to an end the practice where party rogue officials register or deregister members at will to destroy a register or fail to use party membership register published by the Registrar, in the conduct of party mini polls.

Such officials shall be jailed for one year or fined Sh5 million or both if convicted of the offence.

“A person who willfully and without a justifiable reason prevents, obstructs, or hinders another person from accessing a polling station or voting at a polling station where that other person is entitled to vote commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Sh1 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both,” it reads.

Legal framework

If approved by Parliament and signed into law, the Bill will end the chaos that has often rocked party primaries every election cycle.

The proposed law seeks to put in place a legal framework for the conduct of political party primaries.

It sets out the procedure to be followed in the conduct of primaries for purposes of identifying candidates to stand for election in an elective post as well as preparing party lists.

According to the Bill, parties shall conduct their primaries at least 90 days before a General Election or at least 55 days before a by-election. The election shall be conducted by-elections on the board.

The day or days specified by the [Independent Electoral and Boundaries] Commission for the conduct of party primaries for a General Election shall be a public holiday.

A political party shall notify IEBC and the Registrar of Political Parties in writing, at least 21 days before the date of the party primary.

Another Senate Bill seeks to reserve at least five per cent of positions in public offices for People Living with Disability (PLWD).

The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 proposes the amendment of Article 54 (2) to obligate the State to reserve at least five percent of positions in public offices for PLWD.

Article 54 (2) of the Constitution mandates the State to ensure the progressive implementation of the principle that at least five per cent of the members of the public in elective and appointive bodies are persons with disabilities.

Mwaura, the sponsor of the Bill held that disabled persons have endured discrimination in the selection process for public positions.

“The State, at both levels of government, has yet to fully implement their rights and freedoms as envisioned in the Constitution of Kenya and other legislation,” Mwaura says.

He added: “This Bill will ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities with respect to appointment to public bodies are protected and effectively enforced”.

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