IEBC: Aspirants free to raise campaign funds

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The electoral agency has cautioned aspirants against participating in funds drives in compliance with the law, eight months to the General Election.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati however clarified that fundraisers to boost one's political campaigns or for a political party are not prohibited.

The deadline for participating in harambees for aspirants, as provided for under section 26 of the Elections Act, 2011, was on December 9.

“As a ground for disqualification, if evidence is placed before the returning officer that a person engaged in fundraising within eight months to the General Election, then the officer will consider the facts and information before him/her and make a decision as to whether the person seeking to be cleared as a candidate is disqualified on account of non-compliance with section 26 of the Elections Act,” Chebukati said.

“Section 26 should not be read in isolation. It should be placed in context. It flows from preceding sections of the Elections Act such as Section 23 that speaks to qualifications and disqualifications for nomination as president."

Also, the same applies to Section 24 that speaks to qualifications and disqualifications for nomination as an MP, said Chebukati, as well as Section 25 that speaks to qualifications and disqualifications for nomination as a Member of the County Assembly (MCA).

“Parliament then enacted Section 26 with a head note – additional disqualification,” he said.

The law came into effect on Thursday, thereby blocking any funds drive undertaken by aspirants eyeing any elective positions in the next polls.

“It, therefore, means Section 26 of the Elections Act applies as a ground for additional qualification and disqualification for nomination as a candidate for the six elective state offices established by the Constitution,” said Chebukati.

This means aspirants are not at liberty to contribute in churches, issue bursaries or dish out money at rallies to woo voters.

Already, Deputy President William Ruto, who has publicly been criticised over his generosity in fundraisers, has instructed his camp to cease any further harambees.

Ruto ally and Garissa Township MP Aden Duale said the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party has officially written to all aspirants to strictly comply with the law and stop all fundraisers.

“The UDA fraternity has been informed through a text from the secretariat that they should not engage in any harambees or fundraisers in strict compliance with the law. Any aspirants involved in such activities is in breach of the law, and we will not defend them,” said Duale.

He said the law was passed under his watch as the majority leader in the National Assembly and it seeks to guarantee integrity and credibility in management of elections.

“This is a good law. It is also in line with the campaign financing law where harambees are not used to influence voters to vote in a particular way. It seeks to protect democracy and guarantee the free will of the people not to be persuaded in any way,” Duale said.

Senate Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jnr also lauded the move, saying it will give all aspirants and candidates a level playing field.

“Ideally, the law is in place to tighten the campaign financing law and cap the election funds. This is meant to address dirty money circulating in the country to influence the electorate,” he said.