ODM denies outfoxing NASA partners in funding, blames registrar

ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna during a media brief to drum up support for the BBI report at KIVI Milimani Hotel, Nairobi, on October 27, 2020. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

ODM Party has denied being a designated beneficiary of the Political Parties Fund at the expense of other NASA Coalition affiliate parties.

The party’s Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna on Tuesday disputed a statement by the Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu that the affiliate parties will miss out on funding due to unstructured agreements.

Nderitu told Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that Wiper, ANC and ODM merited the funding but the coalition failed to outline the framework for sharing of funds. She said her office had provided the same explanation to Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper party on several occasions.

“Wiper has been writing to us and we have explained to them that after the elections they were supposed to provide us with regulations on how the coalition’s allocation would be shared. They have never done that,” she said.

But in his rejoinder, Mr Sifuna blamed the registrar for turning a blind eye to the finer details that guide the sharing the funds.

Citing Section 25 (2) of the Political Parties Act; Sifuna said only parties with 20 MPs, three senators, three governors and 40 MCAs merit the funding. This is a threshold that he said was only met by Jubilee and ODM.

He said that at the time NASA was formed, an agreement was struck that ODM partners would only claim proceeds the coalition would receive on account of the presidential vote, given their support for former Prime Minister Raila Odinga in 2017. But he said they cannot claim any proceeds based on votes received by other candidates in other elective posts, whom they even fielded candidates against.

“This understanding was captured in both CORD and NASA Coalition agreements. Under CORD Agreement, ODM received and duly remitted monies received on account of presidential votes from the 2013 General Election,” he said, as he revisited how the coalition distributed revenue in 2013.

The law stipulates that the political parties are entitled to 0.03 per cent of the total country’s revenue collected as may be provided by the Parliament. However, the registrar told the legislators that the funds have not met this legal threshold.

Faulting registrar

ODM also faulted the registrar for using October 26, 2017, repeat presidential election as the metric for fund distribution. This, the party said, is a violation of the law after ODM leader Raila Odinga boycotted the poll.

Sifuna said the boycott implies the party can only receive money on account of votes received on other elective posts which its former partners cannot lay claims.

“We have on several occasions written to the registrar to argue the case that applying the results of repeat presidential election when the law demands that she applies the results of the general election is unlawful, and that it has resulted in a skewed allocation of fund in favour of Jubilee but our pleas have fallen on deaf ears,” Sifuna noted.

He said the registrar was bound by Article 136 (2) (a) of the Political Parties Act to use the results of the General Election to determine fund allocation.  He challenged the body to seek an advisory over the matter on the way forward and avoid creating confusion.

“We have challenged the registrar as sector regulator and administrator of the fund to move to the Supreme Court for an advisory opinion and guidance on the right way to treat August 2017 Presidential results when it comes to the distribution of the fund, but she refuses to do so for an unknown reason,” Sifuna said.

The Orange party has had a lengthy battle with its former partners over the funding, where it is accused of bulldozing its way to grab all the funds released for the coalition.

Court case

In June 2020, Wiper, Ford Kenya and ANC claimed being short-changed in the Sh4.5 billion awarded to the Orange party for the 2013-2017 period. But Sifuna said the party is yet to receive the money from the registrar.

In defence of ODM, John Mbadi who is the party’s national chairman, said that the 2013 agreement only involved Wiper and Ford Kenya because ANC fielded Musalia Mudavadi as the presidential candidate in the general election.

“The Sh4.5 billion they keep referring to is as a result of a court case entered by ODM before 2015. It was before we formed the National Super Alliance (NASA), which ANC is part of,” Mbadi said.

The Suba North legislator then added that the party was only receiving money on other elective posts after boycotting presidential repeat poll.

“The money we get is for the five positions – MCA, Woman Rep, Senator, MP and governor. Our partners fielded candidates against us,” he said.