How MPs' actions could influence conduct of 2022 General Election

Parliament Buildings, Nairobi. [File, Standard]

As the august House adjourns ahead of the General Election, its hand in shaping the electoral process cannot be understated.

Both the National Assembly and the Senate have been instrumental in formulating, debating and objecting to laws that have shaped the electoral process with the final exercise being on August 9, which is less than two months away.

The Political Parties (Amendment) Bill 2021, which was passed by Parliament in December 2021 and signed into law by President Uhuru Kenyatta in January, albeit after a protracted contention between lawmakers allied to the  President and ODM leader Raila Odinga, on one hand, and those in support of Deputy President William Ruto on the other.

The law made it possible for the creation of the now monolithic Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition party; it introduced the concept of coalition political parties, outlining functions of political parties as well as changing the criteria of accessing the Political Parties Fund.

It also empowered the Registrar of Political Parties to certify political party membership lists and nomination rules among other transformative provisions aimed at strengthening management of political parties and enhancing democracy.

The August House on Thursday also passed a supplementary budget of Sh70 billion part of which will cater for the bills incurred during the State burial of former President Mwai Kibaki, which cost about Sh20 million, the meter-gauge railway and funding for the Interior and ICT ministries, which are crucial in election preparedness.

Then there is the Independent Electoral and Boundaries (IEBC) regulations that were thrown out of the window by Parliament.

IEBC had sought to amend regulations on registration of voters, party nomination list, and voter education. In its proposals, IEBC wanted to have results forms from polling stations physically delivered, contrary to traditional practice where the image is relayed.

National Assembly Delegated Legislation Committee chaired by William Kamket, however, rejected the proposed regulations, arguing that some of them were not in line with the Constitution and Elections Act 2021 contrary to Section 13(a) of the Statutory Instruments Act 2013.

This means that the electoral process will not be “interfered” with.

On the flip side, an array of Bills and regulations that could have shaped the outcome of the elections are still pending and this could have implications on the process before it reaches its tail end.

The Election Campaign Financing (Amendment) Bill, 2021 by Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni is one such bill. It seeks to eliminate IEBC scrutiny of cash spent by candidates and political parties in campaigns.

It further seeks to remove the current requirement where candidates and political parties which receive contributions issue a receipt for any contribution exceeding Sh20,000.

The Bill, in its second reading stage, also removes the current requirement placed on candidates, political parties or an authorised person seeking to raise funds from harambee to keep a record of the specific details of the fundraiser including the venue, date, organiser of the harambee and the total contributions.

But given the National Assembly having already adjourned sine die, candidates and political parties will still be required to conform to the current Act requiring them to submit their campaign funding details.

Another pending bill is the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2022 which proposes a complementary mechanism for result transmission to address instances where transmission of results is not possible owing to lack of 3G network which is the minimum standard required for transmission of results Form.

IEBC would have been required to verify the results by comparing the original physical form 34A and the image of the result declaration form as transmitted from the polling station.

The agency had also communicated that the Bill sought to delete provisions of the Elections Act nullified by the High Court in the Katiba Institute case. The court declared void the provisions of Sections 39 (1C) (a), 39(1D), 39(1E), 39(1F), and 39 (1G) and Section 83 of the Act. The effect of the ruling is that the results process and the standard by which elections is to be determined by the Court does not exist.

This means that should MPs not convene a special sitting, IEBC will only rely on live-streaming of results but will be at pains ensure transmission and verify results from areas with poor 3G coverage.