National Assembly shoot down IEBC rules on campaign funds

Thursday, August 12th, 2021 00:00 |
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati when he appeared before Delegated Legislation Committee to consider the draft Election Campaign Financing Regulations yesterday. Photo/PD/Samuel Kariuki

The National Assembly yesterday nullified the regulations that  had been proposed by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) seeking to cap campaign financing. 

It now means that politicians seeking to contest for elective positions in  next year’s General Election will be free to spend money without limitations.

Yesterday, the National Assembly Committee on Delegated Legislation unanimously voted to nullify the Elections Campaign Financing Regulations proposed by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

The Bill seeks to amend the Elections Campaign Financing Act, 2013, to remove the bottlenecks that have impeded its implementation. The amendments are intended to regulate the amount of money spent on election campaigns by candidates in all levels.

Fulfilling mandate

The committee chaired by Charles Njagagua (Mbeere North) told the commission that it was time barred and that the Elections Campaign Financing (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was not properly in the House.

Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati while appearing before the committee yesterday, 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.

“We are ready to work with Parliament and claims that we are disregarding the Legislature are both false and misleading,” Chebukati told the committee.

The committee had accused the commission of disregarding Parliament by gazetting the regulations without the approval of the House.

“It’s clear that these regulations should be there at least one year to elections, you can’t present them at the last minute, and even gazette some without Parliament’s approval, they really want to paint us in bad light, they are null and void,” Njagagua said.

MPs claimed IEBC had failed in its obligations, as it did not submit the regulations within the required timelines as the Election Campaign Financing Act, 2013 requires they be in place one year to the election.

“The fact that you bypassed Parliament and went ahead and gazetted the regulations is a confirmation that you have no regard for the House. Sadly you are time barred and the only option will be to withdraw the Bill,” Njagagua told the commission.

Capped financing

He added: “This action by the commission puts it like the electoral body is pushing things to Parliament. We scrutinise these bills when they come to us we do not just pass them. The commission should take note.”

In the proposed regulations, IEBC had capped financing at Sh 4.4 billion for presidential candidate, governors, senators and Woman Reps were limited at Sh433 million while MPs are allowed a maximum of Sh33.4 million.

Wilberforce Oudo, (Funyula) said parliament cannot entertain an illegality and urged members to nullify the regulations.

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 proposed law requires 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.

For better application in the 2022 vote, the polls agency  has sought that the law is changed to bar political parties from accepting donations they are unable to ascertain the identity of the donor.

Permissible donors

Such a donation would only be considered as permissible if it includes permissible donors such as individuals registered as a voter and registered body corporate carrying on business within Kenya.

But in what seems like a well-knit plan similar to the one in the run to the 2017 elections where MPs ganged up to repeal the Elections Campaign Financing Act, in their latest attempt, legislators are seeking to repeal nine sections and amend four, which include keeping confidential the source of their campaign funding and only made public under a probe.

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