Civil society decry fraud in party recruitment
Vitalis Kimutai And Peter Orengo
| Jun 1st 2012 | 3 min read
By Vitalis Kimutai And Peter Orengo
A storm is brewing over the membership of 51 political parties that have fully complied with the Political Parties Act 2011.
Civil society groups have taken issue with the Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndung’u for allegedly allowing parties to fraudulently recruit members.
Parties were recruiting to meet the demand for 1,000 supporters in at least 24 counties in a move also aimed at addressing gender parity and bringing on board marginalised groups and people with disabilities.
Dr Samuel Tororei, the acting chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) revealed that 11 officers from the organisation had confirmed that their names and those of their family members have been listed under various parties without their knowledge.
“Our fear and worry is that should the trend be ignored and the registration fraud goes unpunished, Kenyans stand to experience greater anomalies on the altar of impunity during the elections,” Tororei said.
He said the registrar should restore integrity to the governance and election process.
In a statement, Tororei said KNCHR was demanding an audit and sanctions against political parties found to have registered members fraudulently.
“By failing to apply the law, the registrar created a loophole, which made it possible for fraudsters to use other people’s identities without their prior knowledge and register them as members of various political parties,” said Mr Okiya Omtatah of Kenyans for Justice and Development.
A survey done by an advocacy group, Youth Agenda, last month also queries the authenticity of the data presented to the registrar and now want the information made public.
“The information we got from parties and the registrar is baffling since members of the public have come forward to complain that they had not offered themselves for registration to the parties they are alleged to belong to,” said Youth Agenda Chief Executive Officer Susan Kariuki.
She said the parties either used data from the National Bureau of Statistics available on the Internet, from the M-pesa transactions or by bribing people to register as members.
“A quick assessment shows that the numbers are merely cosmetic,” said Hussen Muhammed, who chairs the board of the Youth League.
Ms Ndung’u in a rejoinder accused party members who had joined other parties for failing to resign from their original parties, thus marking the work of her office hard.
“We have also received complaints from more than 200 people, but some of them keep hopping from one party to the other,” Ndung’u said.
She said her office was carrying out verification to ascertain the true identity and party membership of each complainant adding that she had not yet found any reason to deny a party registration basing on the complaints received.
“We are in constant communication with parties who seek registration. When we find problems with their papers we tell them to rectify them before we register them. So far we have not denied any party registration,” she said.
Ndung’u says following the implementation of the 2007 Political Parties Act, the number of parties in the country reduced from 168 to the current 47 outfits.
Ms Koki Muli, an election and constitutional law expert says the registrar of political parties must ensure that parties comply with the new laws or forfeit public funding.
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