Bill compels aspirants to disclose campaign cash

Thursday, November 11th, 2021 00:00 |
National Assembly’s Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee chair Jeremiah Kioni. Photo/File

It will be mandatory for aspirants and political parties to disclose the amount and sources of contributions received for campaign purposes.

The requirement will cover money for campaigns for nomination, election or referendum. 

Proposed laws are contained in a Bill currently before the National Assembly at its First Reading.

The Election Campaign Financing (Amendment) Bill, 2021 says any political party or committee planning a referendum and fails to disclose funds or donations as required under the law will be deemed to have committed an offence.

“Principal object of the Bill is to amend the Elections Campaign Financing Act, 2013 to align its provisions with the Election Act, 2011 and further propose amendments that will enable its implementation as the current provisions do not take cognisance of current social economic and political structures that has hindered the full implementation of the law,” said Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni, the mover of the Bill. 

Tabling of the Bill comes a month after MPs rejected a move by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to impose spending caps on campaigns for various elective seats.

While dismissing the commission’s proposal, MPs stated that campaign money handled by candidates and parties should remain confidential.

IEBC had spelt out spending limits for those vying for the posts of President, governor, MP and Ward Rep. It now means that politicians seeking to contest elective positions in next year’s General Election will be free to spend money without limitations.

Commission chairperson Wafula Chebukati told MPs that the Bill seeks to amend the Elections Campaign Financing Act, 2013, to remove bottlenecks that have impeded its implementation.

Amendments were intended to regulate the amount of money spent on campaigns by candidates in all levels. Chebukati defended the electoral body, saying it was committed to fulfilling its mandate, adding that it was not its intention to cast aspersions on the work of Parliament.

In the proposed regulations, IEBC had capped financing at Sh4.4 billion for presidential candidates, governors, senators and Woman Reps were limited at Sh433 million while MPs were allowed a maximum of Sh33.4 million. Wilberforce Oundo, (Funyula) said Parliament cannot entertain an illegality and urged members to nullify the regulations.

Spending limits

Laikipia West MP Patrick Mariru said the committee was not against the limitation of campaign financing but wanted the law adhered to. “People out there might conclude that we are opposed to limitation of campaign spending, but what we are insisting is that the commission has not followed the law in presenting the Bill,” Mariru said.

Tharaka MP George Murungara, told the commission that they erred in law by failing to seek Parliament’s approval of the regulations before making them public. 

The Bill mandates the electoral commission to set donation and spending limits by political parties and candidates in respect of election campaigns among other proposals.

IEBC’s proposals required details on sources of the contributions, including donations in cash or kind, received and disclosure done at least 20 days before the nomination day and at least 20 days before the polling day.

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