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IEBC revokes election campaign spending limits

By Moses Nyamori | October 11th 2021

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati. [Willis Awandu, Standard]

Lawmakers have succeeded in cornering the electoral agency to open the way for politicians to outgun each other financially in the next poll by revoking cap on campaign spending.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in a gazette notice revoked its earlier notification on campaign contributions and spending limits in the 2022 General Election.

The decision by the Wafula Chebukati-led commission was made after the National Assembly annulled in its entirety the draft campaign financing regulations and the contributions and spending limits for political parties and candidates.

“…in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 88 (4) (i) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, section 4 of the IEBC Act, 2011, sections 12, 18 and 19 of the Election Campaign Financing Act, 2013 and sections 18 and 19 of the Statutory Instruments Act, 2013, the IEBC gives notice of the revocation of Gazette Notice No. 8024 …published on the 9th August, 2021…” states the gazette notice dated October 5.

The lawmakers were opposed to the regulations requiring them to open specific bank accounts for campaign cash that will be managed by a campaign expenditure committee.

Also at the heart of the revolt by the Members of Parliament was the requirement that any excess donations be surrendered to the National Treasury or be donated to charity organisations after the polls.

MPs had protested the decision by IEBC to gazette the regulations before they were approved by the House.

According to the Election Campaign Financing Act, 2013, the regulations should have been in place one year to the August 9, 2022 General Election.

The regulations that were contained in the Election Campaign Financing Regulations 2021 had capped spending for presidential candidates at Sh4.4 billion over the campaign season, while political parties were given up to Sh17.7 billion to splash in the campaigns.

The expenditures were tabulated based on population and landmass. Single source contribution to candidates or parties was also limited to 20 per cent of the respective schedules.

A recent joint work of Prof Karuti Kanyinga and Tom Mboya stated that under current conditions, it is unlikely that one can seriously compete for elections without a significant financial war-chest.

In comparative terms, the study figured out, politicians tended to spend more money than the ones they legitimately earn once in office, making it a bad draw between cost and returns.

This consideration puts off many potential leaders, leaving politics to a few. But it also shed light on the actual motivation of political candidates, salaries and allowances being the least of them.

Center for Multiparty Democracy (CMD-Kenya), Transparency International Kenya, Mzalendo Trust Sign and Constitution and Reform Education Consortium had threatened court action against the MPs for rejected the regulations.

In a previous briefing, they said there was legitimate public interest in regulating election campaign finance for the 2022 election since uncontrolled use of money may influence voters to pick leaders of dubious integrity.

They said lack of regulation and use of illicitly acquired money continues to exclude youth, women, People with disability and other disenfranchised groups.

Further, the civil society groups said allowing use of money with no form of regulations in the forthcoming polls will promote voter bribery, electoral violence and other malpractices.

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