Wednesday, December 31, 2008

30 parties meet deadline for new law

By Oliver Mathenge

Four political parties will not receive public funding in the coming year after they failed to beat the registration deadline on Wednesday.

Chama cha Uzalendo (CCU), Sisi kwa Sisi, Kadu-Asili and Ford-Asili, with a total of 6 MPs, were among over 120 parties that are set to cease to exist starting on Wednesday should the requirements of the Political Parties Act be implemented immediately.

Only 30 parties had attained full registration by Wednesday evening though at least nine had not picked their certificates.

According to the new law that came into effect in July last year, all registered political parties will share 15 per cent of the public funding equally.

Another 80 per cent will be shared proportionally by reference to the number of votes attained in previous elections by each party’s presidential, parliamentary and civic candidates.

The remaining 5 per cent will be used to cover the fund’s administration expenses. However, where more than one political party supports a presidential candidate, only the votes cast for the parliamentary and civic candidates shall determine the amount to be received.

A registered political party may also miss out on public funding if its national office bearers do not reflect at least a third of either gender.

Efforts to reach the affected MPs on Wednesday for comments over the new development were futile as their phones either went unanswered or were switched off.

The full implementation of the law today is seen as the first step towards the registrar securing government funding for the parties, which was not reflected in this year’s budget speech.

The office of the registrar has indicated that it would petition the Government to include the funding of political parties in its 2008/09 supplementary budget.

Some parties have claimed that it has been impossible to open offices countrywide, secure 200 members in every province and raise the Sh600,000 required for registration during the 6-month window period.

The parties have been asking Ms Ndung’u, the registrar of parties, to extend the deadline by another similar period in order to have more of them comply.

However, indications were on Wednesday clear that the deadline would not be extended though a confirmation was hard to come by from the registrar.

Ms Ndung’u’s phone went unanswered and access to her office was restricted. Her office located at the defunct ECK offices in Nairobi was abuzz with activity as more parties submitted their applications in an attempt to beat the deadline.

However, the Nation learnt that there are at least 15 parties whose applications were being processed and may be awarded their certificates in the coming days.

Only 19 of the registered parties have representation in the 10th Parliament.

The new Act seeks to strengthen parties by providing guidelines for registration, sources of funding and dispute resolution. It also aims at increasing transparency by having them declare assets, liabilities and expenditure.

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