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Political parties fund needs checks and balances

By Dennis Wendo
Thursday, August 20th, 2020
Cash. Photo/File
In summary

The Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides for management of political parties.

The new provisions were actualised through the enactment of the Political Parties Act, 2011, which provides an effective management of political parties, with provisions to ensure funds are used prudently.

The fund to parties is to promote representation in Parliament and in the county assemblies of women, persons with disabilities, youth, ethnic and other minorities and marginalised communities, which shall not be less than 30 per cent of the moneys received; promote active participation by individuals in political life; cover party’s election expenses and broadcasting of policies; civic education in democracy and other electoral processes; and  bring the party’s influence to bear on the shaping of public opinion.  

All political parties, whether they receive the fund or not, are required to have their books audited by the Auditor General and the report submitted to the Registrar of Political Parties who then submits it to the National Assembly.

We have over 78 registered political parties, with a good number operating on provisional certificates.  

We have seen political parties restructure and rebrand, in the name of getting ready for the 2022 General Election.

Over 95 per cent of political parties remain dormant after the general elections, only to resurface in the next one.

We have seen top politicians across the divide calling for electoral reforms in particular at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission ahead of any referendum and general elections. 

One key area that needs firm checks and balances is prudent utilisation of the political parties’ funds gotten from taxpayers.  

 A majority of political parties have no sub-county or county offices, no staff or activities to beneft from the fund, yet they get the monies.

Currently, wrangles and rifts in major political parties are about sharing of funds. 

While membership subscription fee is one of the sources of funds to any political party; a majority of these parties have no tangible membership database, which then justifies the dubious means and tactics parties use to recruit members.  

With the revenue allocation formula at a stalemate, disbursement of funds to counties has been delayed. 

A majority of  current elected leader’s right from the ward level to gubernatorial positions are facing court cases on grounds of massive mismanagement and inability to effectively account for monies allocated to them by the national government as well as the generated income from their respective areas of jurisdiction.  

Political parties must be held responsible and accountable and laws need to be strengthened, including and not limited to practical deregistration of parties that benefit from the  fund yet fail to account or furnish fake records to justify the spending. 

The laws should be in such a way that bars and blacklists any political leader and party official from contesting should it be established that during his/her tenure in office, they failed to account for monies allocated to them by the Registrar of Political Parties.

It is important for parties to understand and conceptualise the intended purpose of public funding. Corruption needs to be entrenched in our laws as a capital offence. 

Regular visitations to party offices and structures by the registrar of political parties to assess activities and progress are crucial and timely in eradicating brief-case parties that only wait for the electioneering period to seize the opportunity and trade on selling party tickets and nominations to the highest bidders.   — The writer is the founder of integrated Development Network—[email protected]

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