Civil society players defend polls IEBC’s move to place a cap on financing of polls

Monday, August 16th, 2021 00:00 |
Caroline Gaita (right), executive director at Mzalendo Trust addresses the press on election campaign financing standoff. With her is Sheila Masinde, executive director, TI Kenya and Mulle Musau, national coordinator at ELOG. Photo/PD/JOHN OCHIENG

Civil Society groups yesterday defended the decision by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to set financial limits for campaigns in elections.

They said IEBC’s move will not only sanitise the electoral process but also create a level playing field for effective participation in elections either as voters or candidates.

They also said the Election Financing Act is clear that IEBC can vary the financial limits and Parliament was expected to open up a debate and give their views on the matter rather than dismiss it.

Joint statement

The groups, Transparency International (TI), Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD-Kenya), Elections Observation Group (ELO), Mzalendo Trust as well as Constitution and Reform Education Consortium (CRECO) made the remarks in a joint statement in Nairobi.

“We hold there is a legitimate public interest in regulating election campaign finances for the 2022 General Election.

While money is necessary to support candidates emergence, uncontrolled use may have twin potential of altering public choice processes, producing leaders of dubious integrity as we have witnessed in past elections,” said TI Executive Director, Sheila Masinde.

They said IEBC acted within its mandate as prescribed under Sections 12, 18 and 19 of the Election Campaign Financing Act 2013 noting this is what the Commission did on August 9.

“Some of the arguments coming from different political quarters seem to suggest that IEBC requires approval from Parliament to release the gazette notice on the spending limits.

Nothing can be further from the truth, only the regulations require parliamentary approval,” they said.

She said the lack of regulation and use of illicitly acquired money continues to exclude youth, women and persons with disabilities and other already disenfranchised groups.

“If we do not regulate the use of money in the forthcoming 2022 General Election, incidents of voter bribery, electoral violence and other electoral malpractices will continue unabated,” she added.

The NGOs said implementation of Election Campaign Financing Act  had faced hurdles since its enactment.

They added that a delay of more than two electoral cycles since 2013 without its implementation raises grave concerns about subversion of the Constitution, which demands regulation of the use of money in elections.

“The historical justification and constitution and legal requirement for regulating the use of money in elections are well documented and we cannot delay any further the implementation of the law on campaign financing,” the groups said.

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