By Alex Ndegwa
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta’s The National Alliance ( TNA) will finance campaigns for the party’s youthful candidates who do not have the financial muscle to compete with well-heeled opponents.
In a radical move designed to attract youthful leaders discouraged from electoral competition by financial constraints, TNA has resolved to set up a Young Aspirants Fund.
TNA National Oversight Board resolved during a meeting held on Wednesday at party headquarters to fund campaigns for deserving candidates who clinch the party’s nomination.
The fund is meant to support youthful candidates who are aspiring for various political seats through the party ticket as part of a leadership development programme, according to TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja.
“ TNA, which supports a generational change in the political scene, will raise these funds through a fundraising whose date will be communicated later,” Sakaja said. The ban on aspirants for various elective positions presiding over harambees does not extend to a fundraising for candidate for an election or a political party.
Since TNA’s grand and much publicised launch in May, the party has sought to push the boundaries of political party organisation. The latest decision comes against the backdrop of the legislative clamour to regulate campaign and political financing.
In response to the draft Campaign Financing Bill, the Centre for Multi-party Democracy Kenya (CMD-Kenya) welcomed the measure, saying the big money politics only favoured the wealthy.
“The financial requirements for entry into electoral competition appear to be getting higher and higher, resulting in political exclusion of those who cannot afford the cost,” a CMD-Kenya report observed.
Unregulated campaign financing, it said, often created an uneven playing field in election contest. “Large sums of money give certain parties and/or candidates undue advantage over others,” CMD-Kenya argued. “Very often the candidates with the most money always win the election or party nomination process.” TNA is attempting to shore up the not-so-well-to-do aspirants to stem the effect that such wide discrepancies in levels of funding between candidates is limiting opportunities for political competition and disenfranchising challengers.
“This comes due to the realisation by the party that there exist many young Kenyans who are visionary, competent and passionate about leadership but shy away from participating in elections due to lack of financial resources and thus deny the country the benefit of their leadership,” Sakaja added.