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Kalonzo, Mudavadi furious as court seals parties’ fate on State funding

POLITICS
By STEPHEN MAKABILA and OSCAR OBONYO | February 9th 2014
                                         Kalonzo Musyoka                PHOTO: COURTESY

By STEPHEN MAKABILA and OSCAR OBONYO

Former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, former Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula run the risk of being immobilised politically.

This follows Monday’s High Court ruling blocking political parties led by the three political bigwigs from accessing state funding.

The trio, alongside 47 other political party leaders, are now fighting against the ruling, which could hamper their politically activity.   

“It is beyond comprehension that anybody would even contemplate locking out a big national party like Wiper from accessing the political parties’ kitty. It cannot happen and we shall not allow it to happen,” vows Kalonzo.

Mudavadi, who leads United Democratic Forum (UDF), blamed the move on the hurried amendments by the 10th Parliament, which he noted did not conceive constitutional safeguards on democracy.  “The law must be changed. You cannot ignore political parties that have more than 77 MPs and hundreds of Members of County Assemblies (MCAs), governors and senators and yet it is taxpayers’ money,” Mudavadi told The Standard On Sunday.

The parties that missed out on the allocation have 77 MPs in the 11th Parliament and secured about 35 per cent of votes cast in the March 4, 2013 General Election.

Members of the Wetang’ula-led Ford-Kenya have separately expressed shock at the turn of events and loudly wonder how the Minority Leader in the Senate will finance his political operations.  

Kalonzo, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula are easily the leading political heavyweights who missed out on the cake, with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s TNA and United Republican Party (URP) of Deputy President William Ruto, sharing the allocated Sh205 million. 

Relevant articles of the Constitution stipulate that for a party to qualify for state funding it must garner at least five per cent of the total presidential votes cast. Kalonzo argues that the 4.82 per cent, which was worked out to represent his party’s share of the vote is erroneous.

“This is sheer mischief by individuals who wanted to lock us out. We have worked out our figures and they read differently. Even if we are wrong, 4.82 is very close to 5.0 and the prudent thing would have been to round it off to 5.0 per cent,” the former VP told The Standard On Sunday.

Judge’s ruling

 Same as Ford-Kenya, who are coalition partners in the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), Kalonzo says they will be challenging the court ruling: “We are doing this at two levels — as a party and as a coalition, because ODM, which is a beneficiary of the allocations, is also with us on this matter.”  

Meanwhile TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja, says his party will push for increased funding for political parties. Noting that the said fund is supposed to account for 0.3 per cent of the national revenue, which works to about 2.6 billion shillings this financial year, Sakaja laments that the amount allocated is far below expectations.

He says that if the Constitution were fully adhered to, then there would be enough cash to go around for all political parties.

The proposed cash allocation formula is reflective of the party strengths in the National Assembly and Senate. ODM has a total of 89 MPs in the National Assembly followed by TNA (89), URP (75) Wiper (25), UDF (12), Ford-Kenya (10), while Kanu and New Ford-Kenya have six MPs each. These figures include Women Representatives and nominated legislators. 

Raila-Uhuru-Ruto parties equally top in numbers in the Senate with TNA having 17 senators, one better than ODM’s 16, URP (12), Wiper and Ford-Kenya with six senators each and Kanu, UDF and Alliance Party of Kenya with three each, while Narc has one senator.

But Kanu Secretary General Nick Salat protests that even the ‘Big Three’ (ODM, TNA and URP) do not stand for any ideology that is beneficial to Kenyans, compared to the other so-called smaller parties.

“We have to use taxpayers money to fund parties and develop ideologies of such parties. The Constitution has to be amended to address this,” adds Salat. On Monday, High Court Judge David Majanja ruled that only three out of the 57 political parties that participated in last year’s General Election would share the Sh205 million. Those to benefit include TNA, which will get Sh89.3 million, ODM (Sh87.4 million) and URP (Sh28.2 million).

Over 50 political parties that missed out on the allocation are now banking on two options to salvage themselves. An appeal against the High Court ruling, as indicated by Centre for Multi-Party Democracy (CMD), comes as the first option while the second is to push for an amendment of the Political Parties Act (PPA) in Parliament.

CMD chairman Omingo Magara has already indicated the lobby will appeal the ruling, but equally confirmed to The Standard On Sunday that pushing for an amendment of the PPA was also on the cards.

“We have already consulted our lawyers. Although we have 14 days to appeal, we want to fast-track the process,” said Magara.

New Ford-Kenya Secretary General, Benjamin Mwema said failure to fund political parties would return the country to the era of individual ownership. “All representatives of the Political Parties Liaison committee met and unanimously agreed that the Political Parties Act be amended,” added Mwema who is the Committee chairman.

Magara has argued the Act violates the Constitution under articles 10 and 38, noting that any other law that is inconsistent with the Constitution is considered null and void. “The Constitution, in Article 10, stipulates public participation and democracy as national values while Article 38 proclaims the right to vote and to be elected among other rights,” he said.

Registrar of Political Parties (RPP) Lucy Ndung’u told The Standard on Sunday disbursal of the funds will follow, as there was no pending restraining order.

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