By STEPHEN MAKABILA
Political parties are now on the spotlight over low public confidence they enjoy.
Even after the bruising exercise of complying with the new Political Parties Act (PPA) by April 30, and with only six months for them to carry out internal nominations in readiness for the transitional General Election in March, the public’s confidence in these parties stand below par.
According to the latest Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation report dated June 14, people’s confidence in political parties is relatively low at 40 per cent compared to other institutions such as the police 43 per cent and the Judiciary at 67 per cent.
Ironically still, the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission, which is to organise and conduct the coming elections in which parties will compete in, enjoys a high confidence among Kenyans at 80 per cent, only second to the media which tops public confidence at 90 per cent.
“The parties are rated even lower than the police, implying that people are dissatisfied with the ‘business as usual’ attitude of the political parties,” reads the report by Southern Consulting in part.
The report further notes, “Although IEBC is institutionally preparing for the next elections, it is not in control of the entire electoral environment because other actors remain independent of the IEBC. Clearly, political parties are not prepared for a credible and transparent election; they are weak and are yet to organise.”
South Consulting is the research firm designated by the Panel of Eminent African Personalities chaired by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to undertake independent monitoring and evaluation of the KNDR implementation process.
The emerging question is why this low confidence in political parties, which, according to the Centre for Multi-Party Democracy, chairman Justin Muturi, are supposed to be institutions of public governance especially after operationalisation of PPA.
Under the Act, political parties are funded by the State and are supposed to be ran professionally, and in turn win public confidence. But after the close of the PPA compliance in April, figures from the office of the registrar showed only slightly more than two million Kenyans registered as parties’ members out of 12 million registered voters.
Kenya has 46 fully registered political parties according to the Registrar of Political Parties. Each party had to register at least 24,000 members to get the compliance certificate. ODM led with about 78,000 members.
Currently, most of the parties are in the field recruiting members ahead of the fresh voter registration which kicks off August, where over 16 million voters are to be registered afresh.
Even as they recruit, Registrar Lucy Ndung’u has, however, warned those who may have registered members in a fraudulent manner or have falsified information presented to her office to remedy the breach or face deregistration and a fine of not less than Sh1 million under section 46 of the PPA.