Sunday, January 4, 2009



By Isaac Ongiri and Joseph Murimi

Days of clandestine funding of political parties are gone. The enforcement of the Political Parties Act, which requires regular audit of party finances and declaration of fund sources to the registrar, has brought the practice to an end.

This also brings to an end foreign trips often made by party leaders to source funds for campaigns from undeclared sources.

Ruling political parties will no longer siphon funds from State parastatals.

In the new law, the registrar is required to closely monitor party accounts and parties that do not comply with the required scrutiny will be deregistered.

Party roving by politicians will be no more.

The Speaker of the National Assembly will not require any MP to submit resignation letter to declare a seat vacant.

"This new law is very clear. Anyone who shows interest in another party, supports that other party or behaves in a manner likely to suggest that he or she is favouring other parties will be considered as having resigned," says lawyer Paul Muite.

Muite says the law would force MPs to remain loyal to their parties.

"Situations witnessed before, like when Kanu MPs were named in Kibaki’s Government of National Unity, will not recur," says the former Kabete MP.

The registrar of political parties has announced that only 38 out of the 168 parties have complied with the new law.

But contrary to the belief that MPs whose parties have not complied will lose their seats, the Constitution salvages them from seeking fresh mandate.

"Even if a party is dissolved now, its MPs will remain in Parliament as long as they do not resign," says Muite.

Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara of Chama Cha Uzalendo (CCU) supports this view.

"The Political Parties Act transitional provisions has clearly addressed this, in fact there is no confusion," he says.


He points out that had there been any conflict between this Act or any other Act and the Constitution, then the Constitution carries the day.

But nominated MP George Nyamweya says legislators whose parties have failed to comply or have joined other parties are expected to resign and face by elections.

"The window is over, if someone has joined another political party, he or she has left the party that sponsored him to Parliament. The consequences are clear," says Nyamweya.

He argues that such MPs are expected to seek re-election.

Speaker Kenneth Marende is expected to give a ruling on the issue when Parliament resumes.

"This is a very sensitive matter. Some MPs who feel they will be affected have raised it with me. I will give a ruling when Parliament resumes," he told The Standard on Sunday.

The new law will also restrict funding of political parties by other governments or non-governmental organisation. The Government is expected to start funding parties from July next year.

"As things stand now, smaller political parties that have not complied shall have been locked out of this process. This is where things were not done right," Imanyara says.

Section 32 (1) of the Act requires parties to submit a statement detailing their assets and liabilities 90 days before a General Election.

This will restrict incidences of corruption and misuse of public resources. The registrar is empowered to deregister parties that shall have failed or refused to comply with this section or those which submit false statements.

While declaring 130 parties non-compliant on Friday, the Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndung’u advised non-compliant parties to register a fresh.

And out of the 38 parties that had complied, only 17 have been issued with registration certificates. They include President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU), Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM and Narc-Kenya led by Justice Minister Martha Karua.

Registered Parties

Other key parties that have been issued with certificates are Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka’s ODM-Kenya, Nominated MP Musikari Kombo’s Ford-Kenya, former ruling party Kanu, Safina and Water Assistant Minister Mwangi Kiunjuri’s Grand National Union.

In a notice to political parties, Ndung’u said the 38 parties that had submitted their applications under section 23 of the Political Parties Act, 2007 had qualified for registration.

She advised parties that had not made their applications under section 23 to apply for registration under section 18 of the Act.

"In this regard ‘original’ political parties previously registered under the Societies Act cap 180, whose applications for registration under section 23 of the Political Parties Act have not been received by this office, are hereby advised to apply for registration under section 18 of the same Act,’’ wrote Ndung’u.

Section 18 of the Political Parties Act provides for the registration of parties and also declares previously registered parties as illegal unless they seek fresh registration.

On Friday, Ndung’u said a political party that submitted a formal application to the registrar on or before December 31, last year and the application has not been denied remains lawful until such application has been approved or denied. This means that all the 38 parties, including those who have not yet collected their certificates, remain lawful.

The new law has been praised as a milestone in the evolution of democracy in Kenya. The law seeks to streamline the management of political parties and forestall mushrooming every election year.

Other parties that have full registration include DP, Mazingira, Ford-People and National Vision Party of former Cabinet Minister Nicholas Biwott.