Political Parties finances to be checked
By - Protus Onyango
| October 22nd 2012
By Protus Onyango
There has been heightened activity by presidential candidates and their parties to raise funds for political campaigns.
Presidential aspirants have hosted dinners with a plate of meals going for between Sh100,000 and Sh10,000.
But observers are raising the alarm that in future the politicians may be flouting rules that govern elections in the country if they do this.
Eldoret North MP William Ruto’s United Republican Party (URP), Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Movement party have collected millions of shillings from such dinners.
Narc-Kenya presidential candidate Martha Karua among others also hosted such a dinner.
She had earlier launched a fund raising blitz dubbed “Simama Na Mama Na Mia” on the social media.
Presidential aspirants have been hosting the fund-raising dinners with some resorting to using their websites and mobile phone money services to reach well-wishers.
Questions are being raised if there is transparency in all the fund-raising activities because there are occasions where those present in such functions present envelopes with wads of money but it is not stated how much the envelope contains.
Now, Lucy Ndung’u, the registrar of political parties, says the Election Campaign Financing Bill, 2012, which was drafted by her office in collaboration with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), aims to address transparency and accountability in political parties.
“The Bill is with the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC). Once it becomes law, it will be mandatory for all parties and individuals vying for elective posts to declare their assets and liabilities 90 days before and after a General Election. The Elections Act also bars politicians from participating in fundraising eight months before elections,” Ms Ndungu said.
She said the Bill establishes a commission to regulate and manage the expenditure of election campaign funds during elections and referenda.
“It establishes expenditure committees for candidates and political parties. These committees must be formed three months before a General Election or a week before a by-election,” Ms Ndungu said.
The registrar noted that the committees are required to open expenditure accounts and submit details of the accounts to the commission.
“It is mandatory for the parties to disclose details of the funds and donations. Failure to disclose will lead to disqualification of the candidate or party in contesting in the General Election. If discovered after, the penalty applies during the next General Election or by-election,” Ms Ndungu said.
The Political Parties Act, 2012, apart from setting aside a fund, which is to be shared among all political parties that meet registration requirements, also has provisions for other sources of funds.
Article 27 of the Act (1) names sources of other funds for a political party as membership fees, voluntary contributions from a lawful source, donations, bequests and grants from any other lawful source, not being from a non-citizen, foreign government, inter-governmental.
Other sources are a foreign agency, or a foreign political party, which shares an ideology with a political party registered in Kenya may provide technical assistance to that political party.
The technical assistance should not include provision of any assets to the political party.
Article 27 (4) obligates a political party to disclose to the registrar full particulars of all funds or other resources obtained by it from any source.
Article 28 (1) states that a political party which receives funds from a non-citizen contrary to section 27 (1) (c) commits an offence.
But subsections 2 and 5 shall not apply to any contribution or donation whether in cash or kind, made by any founding member of the political party as his contribution to the initial assets of the party within the first year of its existence.
The Bill allows for maximum individual contributions to political parties of up to Sh20 million.
“The amount is too high and will perpetuate the culture of corruption where unscrupulous people finance political parties in return for government tenders when the given political party forms government,” says Harrison Manga, a Nairobi resident.
He adds: “Even founder members of parties should have their contribution to the party capped at Sh1 million. Giving them a free hand makes them own parties as is currently the case."
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