Republic of Kenya

 

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Historical Evolution of Political Parties

Kenya negotiated for constitutional framework and independence against the colonial rule at the Lancaster Conference for a period of years -. It was after this that two political parties namely Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU), and Kenya African National Union (KANU) were formed.

In the national elections of May 1963, KANU won a majority of seats in both houses of parliament. KADU dissolved voluntarily in 1964 and joined KANU. In March 1966, Kenya People’s Union (KPU) was formed as a result of ideological differences, leadership struggles, and the repression of dissent within KANU. However, KPU was banned in 1969.

Kenya became a de facto single state from this time until 1982 when the Constitution was amended on 9th June 1982 to make a de jure single party state. In December 1991 Parliament repealed Section 2A of the Constitution, paving the way for the reemergence of multiparty politics and ending KANU’s monopoly on power.

For many years, there was no specific law governing political parties in Kenya. Political Parties were registered by the Registrar of Societies under the Societies Act (Cap.108), a law which governed the registration of all associations including women organizations and football clubs. In effect, political parties were private associations.

The democratic space of 1991 resulted in the proliferation of many political parties, which were weak and poorly institutionalized and therefore not well equipped to promote and ascertain democratic government. This was attributed to the absence of an effective regulatory framework for the registration, operation, and management and funding of political parties. Parliament unsuccessfully attempted four times between 1993 and 1994 to enact a law that would provide independent registration and funding of political parties. The liberalization of the registration of political parties in Kenya resulted in the formation of many political parties that wrangled, split and formed new outfits with similar names and/or symbols.

The opposition parties made a brief attempt at unity with the formation of the United National Democratic Alliance in 1995. Also in 1995, the Safina Party was founded to organize an umbrella opposition party. By 1996, however, several opposition parties had tentatively acknowledged their support of Safina. By March 1997 there were 26 registered political parties, but only 10 won parliamentary seats in the 1997 elections judged as fairly credible. Effectively, in the run-up to the 27 December 2002 elections, the opposition was led by an alliance known as the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC).

Prior to the 2007 general election there were 168 registered parties and 117 participated in the General Election. It is against this background that the Political Parties Act 2007 was enacted. The objective of the Act was to provide for the registration, regulation and funding of political parties and matters incidental thereto. It came into force on 1st July, 2008 and the Office of Registrar of Political Parties was established. All Political Parties registered under the Societies Act were required to register afresh under the new law within 160 days. This led to the reduction of political parties registered under the Societies Act from 168 to 47 by 2009.

The passing of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 introduced a new paradigm for management and administration of political parties. It recognizes political parties as important institutions in the promotion of democracy. Article 91 of the Constitution sets out basic requirements for political parties and stipulates the principles upon which political parties shall be formed. Article 92 further provides that parliament shall enact legislation to incorporate and implement the Constitution and the principles stipulated there under. Consequently the Political Parties Act, 2011 was enacted and the office of the Registrar of Political Parties became an independent office.

The table below summarizes the number of parties registered in different years:

 

Year(s) No. of Political Parties
1960 About 2
1963-1964 2
1964-1966 1
1966-1982 1 (De Facto)
1982-1991 1 (De Jure)
1991-1992 10
1992-1997 23
1997-2002 51
2002-2007 149
2008 168
2009-2011 47
2012 51
2013-2014 59

 

b)    Formation of Political Parties

The Constitution of Kenya 2010, and the Political Parties Act, 2011 stipulate comprehensive and legal obligations required of registered political parties.  The Act provides the institutional and regulatory framework for registration, regulation and funding of political parties.

The Act is the primary legal reference for management of political parties in accordance with Articles 91 and 92 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, which envisages well governed political parties that respect internal democracy and their constitutional status in the Kenyan political system.

Political Parties may be formed in Kenya to further purposes which are not contrary to the Constitution or any written law. A citizen of Kenya who has attained the age of eighteen years may contest for an elective position in a political party in which he is a member.

The Political Parties Act also give the Registrar powers to register an association of persons or an organization that intends operate or function as a political party. This consequently prohibits any association to operate unless it has been registered in accordance with the provisions of the Act. Such an association must also meet the requirements set out in Article 91 of the Constitution.

c)    Application for Registration

Registration of any association of persons or organization as a political party occurs upon  application for the same to the Registrar of Political Parties. Registration of a political party is a two stage process:
• Provisional registration, and
• Full registration.

Download a Guide to Parties Registration

d)    Political Party Membership
 
There can be no party without members because members are the lifeline of a party. The Political Parties Act places members at the core of Kenyan parties so as to allow them to play these roles in society. Political parties therefore must not only have a membership that is sufficiently large and diverse, they must also know them and involve them in party affairs. How exactly members will be engaged, the Act leaves for each individual party to decide.

Since a political party is a legal entity with its own rights and responsibilities, it has a liberty to decide who and the criteria one needs to satisfy to become a member. And as a requirement with the Act, a political party must stipulate, in its constitution the eligibility for membership.

Political parties recruit members using the specified Party Membership Verification Forms.
These forms are filled in respect of every member of the party and are duly signed. Once a person’s name has been entered into the membership register of a political party, the person becomes a member of that political party.

It is an offence to register a person as a member of a political party without his/her consent. A political party must at any time keep updated and accurate party membership list to be available for the members and the public at the party head office and all party county offices.

The party must recruit members. In doing so, the recruitment process includes the following elements:

  • The party constitution must spell out the membership recruitment requirements.

  • The party must introduce membership card of a specific standard.
  • The party and the member must complete the member verification form.
  • The party must keep and continuously update a membership list.
  • The party must keep and update a list of membership dues paid in accordance with the party constitution.
  • Members implement the traditional roles of a political party in society, such as to:
    • Mobilize citizens for party support
    • Engage with and educate citizens on policies
    • Recruit and  elect political party leaders
    • Nominate party candidates for general election and by-election

    •  

      Formulate public policy views
    • Be educated for future leadership (sustainability of the party)
    • Represent citizens when nominated and elected to the legislative and executive arms of government.
    • Pay membership fees.


    Download Political Party Membership Manual for full details.

e)    Regulation of Political Parties

Party Management
A party must have an organizational structure at national and county level with all relevant and elected party bodies and organs. The governing body must reflect regional and ethnic diversity and representation of minorities and marginalized groups. Not more than two-third of the members of the governing body are of the same gender. The party must demonstrate that members of the governing body meet the requirements of Chapter Six of the Constitution and the laws relating to ethics.

It is therefore a requirement that every political party in Kenya must have a:

  • National character.
  • Have democratically elected governing body.
  • Promote and uphold national unity.
  • Abide by the democratic principles of good governance, promote and practice democracy through regular, fair and free elections within the party.
  • Respect the rights of all persons to participate in the political process, including minorities and marginalized groups.
  • Respect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms.
  • Respect and promote gender equality and equity.

The party must have a clear management structure including roles and responsibilities and the procedures to be followed. To address potential conflicts in the party, it must have permanent dispute and conflict resolution mechanism. Among the documents required for a political party are:

  • Party constitution.
  • Nomination rules and procedures.
  • Internal party election rules and procedures.
  • Party policy document(s).
  • Party policy reporting document.

Records
Political party documents are fundamental for party institutionalizing, inclusive participation, education of party members and the public at large, accountability and transparency and responsible representation.

The Office of the Registrar of Political Parties may request copies of documents to be furnished upon request. Any person who interferes, damages or destroys any record or fails to furnish any document required commits an offence. A member of a political party may, during working hours and on payment of the prescribed fee, inspect and obtain copies of the records maintained at its head office or county office.

Therefore all political parties must have accurate and authentic records including:

  • Party constitution
  • Party nomination rules and internal election rules
  • Party manifesto and other policy documents including policy
  • Reporting document
  • Party strategic plan
  • Names and contact details of party officials and party elected representatives to public offices
  • Party budget, particulars of contributions including membership dues paid, latest audited accounts as well as particulars of properties.

County   Office

For a party to be registered, it is required to open party county offices in at least half of the counties. More importantly, the office should be functional. Party county offices are there to provide the services of the party to its members and the public at large.

Among the many functions a party county office may provide are:

  • The members of the party and the public to have access to the party.
  • Party outreach activities and purposes.
  • For internal activities and the running of the party affairs.
  • For keeping of records in accordance with sec.17 of the Act.
  • For membership recruitment and membership list updating.
  • For keeping records of all party officials and all party elected representatives.
  • For keeping the particulars of the office including the person in Charge Being the prime point of contact with IEBC and the representatives of the Registrar at the county office, the county Political Party Liaison Committee (PPLC), Government agencies, IEBC Peace Committees and other relevant actors.
  • Liaise with the party members in the County Assembly.
  • Prepare regular reports to the party head office.

According to the Act, the minimum requirements are that the office is functioning, keeps the records and is available for party members and the public including providing copies of records upon request.

Financial Administration
Political parties require financial resources to sustain and operate a basic party structure. Section 23 of the Act established the Political Parties Fund.  This is administered by the Registrar with the reason to ensure that funds are used prudently. The sources of funds for a political party are:

  • The political parties fund (Fund);
  • Membership fees;
  • Voluntary contributions from a lawful source;
  • Donations, bequests and grants from any other lawful source, not being from a non-citizen, foreign government, inter-governmental or non-governmental organization; and
  • The proceeds of any investment, project or undertaking in which the political party has an interest.

The goal of the Fund is to assist political parties to fulfill their roles in a democratic society, especially in non-election periods. It equally promotes accountability, transparency and fair competition between parties. This in essence is aimed to curb corrupt practices while promoting several constitutional and enshrined rights.
It includes such funding purposes as:


promoting the representation in Parliament  and in the county assemblies of women, persons with disabilities, youth, ethnic and other minorities and marginalized communities;

  • Promoting active participation by individual citizens in political life;
  • Covering the election expenses of the political party and the broadcasting of the policies of the political party;
  • the organization by the political party of civic education in democracy and other electoral processes;
  • Bringing the political party's influence to bear on the shaping of public opinion; and administrative and staff expenses of the political party which shall not be more than thirty per cent of the moneys allocated to the political party.

The Act provides for distribution of the fund, restriction of sources, disclosure and audit of the Fund.  The purposes for which the fund is to be utilized are set out in the Act and are identified simply as those compatible with democracy.

f)    Funding of Political Parties

The State allocates money for the Political Parties Fund to be used in funding political parties that meet the criteria set out in the Act. This is because parties require financial resources to sustain and operate a basic party structure. The Fund is administered by the Registrar. The Act has very elaborate provisions on political parties funding and accounting. The reason is to ensure that funds are used prudently.

Sources of Funds for Political Parties

The sources of funds for a political party are:
•    The political parties fund (Fund);
•    membership fees;
•    voluntary contributions from a lawful source;
•    donations, bequests and grants from any other lawful source, not being from a non-citizen, foreign government, inter-governmental or non-governmental organisation; and
•    the proceeds of any investment, project or undertaking in which the political party has an interest.

Distribution of the Fund
The Fund shall be distributed as follows:

•    ninety five per cent of the Fund proportionately by reference to the total number of votes secured by each political party in the preceding general election; and
•    five percent for the administration expenses of the Fund.

A political party shall not be entitled to receive funding from the Fund if—

•    the party does not secure at least five per cent of the total number of votes at the preceding general elections; or
•    more than two-thirds of its registered office bearers are of the same gender.

The total number of votes secured by a political party shall be computed by adding the total number of votes obtained in the preceding general election by a political party in the election for the President, members of Parliament, county governors and members of county assemblies.

Purposes of the Fund

Political Parties are required to spend money allocated from the Fund in the following ways:

•    at least thirty percent (30%) of the Funds to promote the representation in Parliament and in the county assemblies of women, persons with disabilities, youth, ethnic and other minorities and marginalized communities;
•    promoting active participation by individual citizens in political life;
•    covering the election expenses of the political party and the broadcasting of the policies of the political party;
•    the organization by the political party of civic education in democracy and other electoral processes;
•    bringing the political party's influence to bear on the shaping of public opinion; and
•    at most thirty percent (30%) on administrative and staff expenses.

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