Former MP accuses RPP of negligence in oversight of parties

Former Nominated MP Hassan Aden Osman. [Tabitha Otwori, Standard]

A former legislator has taken the Office of Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) to the High Court over claims of eroding the foundation of governance.

Former Nominated MP Hassan Aden Osman, argues that the ORPP has failed to validate a  significant threshold that political parties must meet to receive funding.

This requirement entails having no less than 1,000 registered voters from more than half of the 47 counties to become a fully registered party.

While the law mandates that a political party becomes eligible for funding by securing a minimum of five per cent of the total votes in the previous General Election, not meeting the fundamental criteria for full registration can warrant its deregistration.

So far only the Kenya National Democratic Alliance (KENDA) has been deregistered.

"If you go to some of these counties these parties, their offices are open during the election and closed the day after the election. By law, they must have an existing office that needs to be opened, manned and the registered of the membership and other requisite policy documents of the party are there," said Osman during an interview on Spice FM.

In the 2021/2022 financial year, Jubilee and ODM through the office of the ORPP received Sh1.0 billion and Sh1.3 billion respectively from the Political Parties Fund (PPF).

The following year (2022/2023), 14 political parties received the funds with the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) getting the lion's share of Sh345.8 million followed by ODM with Sh184.7 million.

Osman contends that despite full registration of most parties receiving funding, they still fail to meet the foundational requirements outlined in the law.

In compliance with the Political Parties Act of 2011, funds allocated to registered political parties from the Political Parties Fund must be used for purposes of supporting the representation of underrepresented groups, including women, persons with disabilities, youth, and marginalized communities, in Parliament and county assemblies.

Secondly, the funds are aimed at fostering active civic participation in the country.

Moreover, these resources are intended to empower political parties to shape public opinion, allowing them to influence national discourse.

“What has that money done? What do we see?” Posed Osman.

The former MP also states that the ORPP lacks essential updated contact details like party telephone numbers and email addresses, which are legal requirements.

For the past couple of months, Osman has written to the RPP requesting critical information  including the political parties register, assets, register of fully registered political parties, contact information for party headquarters and branch offices, lease agreements for party offices, list of party officials with their interim or substantive status, as well as their gender, region, and special interest group representation.

Additionally, quarterly or yearly inspection reports for the past five years, records of the latest National Delegates Conference (NDC) for fully registered political parties, and current coalition agreements lodged with the ORPP have all been subject to incomplete disclosure.

“The documents that are lodged with the ORPP are public property. I asked for the Azimio coalition, I asked for Kenya Kwanza Alliance documents and that of Taifa and I was told to look for their offices. That is her role as a state officer,” said Osman.

Documents signed by RPP Anne Nderitu show that despite being asked to provide information on 14 issues, she provided only six including political party beneficiaries under the PPA, a list of fully registered political parties, a list of provisionally registered political parties and deregistered political parties among others.

Discrepancies in the registered addresses of political parties, as maintained by the ORPP, are further complicating the situation. Osman said that some parties were registered at addresses that do not exist, creating confusion for anyone seeking to engage with the outfits.

“I took the initiative to send a court process server to go and look for some of the parties within the vicinity of the CBD. Unfortunately, the report he filed back with my lawyers was that none of the parties existed in the buildings where they were registered. I gave him a list of five names and none were there,” he explained.

The former legislator emphasizes that under the law, the ORPP is required to conduct quarterly inspections of political parties and update their records accordingly. If parties change their addresses, it must be gazetted.

The former legislator argues that addressing these issues is crucial for good governance in the country.

“At the moment, what is going on in the country is the issue concerning governance. after every cycle of election, we have the Bipartisan talks on the issue of governance. If at the start you are not getting it right by having political parties that are not compliant with the law then at the end of the day you have the mess we are seeing,” said Osman.

Furthermore, he contends that the ORPP needs to verify the accuracy of party membership and party registers. In the months leading up to the 2022 General Election, the ORPP came under fire after the public protested on social media for being registered in parties without their consent.