By Jackson Okoth
The coming months will be jammed by political activity as Kenyans ready to go to the polls in March in an election that is billed to be a high stakes contest.
The fact the President Kibaki will not be contesting for presidency heightens the political rivalry — with candidates pulling all stops in the race to State House.
Thus with Kenya hurtling down into election mode, the big question is whether the economy can cushion itself from excess cash that is usually splashed around up to polling day.
Already, those vying for presidency and other elective positions are spending huge sums to prepare their campaign ship by setting up secretariats, recruiting staff and consultants.
The amount of cash candidates spent in 2007 serves as an indicator of the amount of cash that will be injected into the economy in the next few months.
To make an impact, presidential candidates have started spending on public rallies although a full picture of what their budgets are is not clear.
What should be of concern is what measures Treasury will employ to ensure the campaign cash does not disrupt the economy’s fundamentals now that the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has managed to rein in inflation to 10 per cent from 20 per cent last year.
A report on the 2007 polls by the Coalition for Accountable Political Financing (CAPF), a group of governance-focused civil society organisations, shows politicians spent a whopping Sh5.6 billion on campaigns.
Much of the campaign funds were absorbed by the media, fund raising officers, manufacturers of campaign paraphernalia, hotel and travel firms, event organisers, campaign strategy advisers, consultants, campaign coordinators and party agents, pollsters, security firms, entertainers, youth and women groups.
Data gathered by CAPF suggests that in the 2007 poll, more than Sh850 million came through party nomination fees and levies, Sh1 billion from foreigners including Kenyans in the Diaspora, Sh1 billion from individual donations and contributions and Sh500 million from commercial banks, Saccos, pyramid schemes and other shadowy sources.
The data also shows that about Sh700 million was raised through sale of personal assets by candidates. On average, most parliamentary aspirants spent between Sh7 and Sh8 million during the 2007 General Election.
On misuse of State resources, the study found out that during the 2007 polls, senior civil servants and personalities working in parastatals were active in partisan campaigns.