Regulation of Political Parties
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.
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.
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.
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.