Lobby demands funding for political parties

June 14, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 14 – A lobby for political parties on Sunday demanded that Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta revise his budget to factor in funding for political parties.

Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) Chairman Professor Larry Gumbe said by failing to announce the allocation in his budget speech, Mr Kenyatta ignored provisions of the Political Parties Act that provides for State funding to improve internal democracy and the status of political parties.

“The law is very clear if it says the Finance Minister must give funding to political parties he must,” Prof Gumbe said.

The enactment of the law last year prohibited political parties getting external funding, which CMD said will weaken parties.

“If Uhuru Kenyatta wants us to live with oligarchy, where a few people control the politics of a country by financing political parties, he should tell us.”

“All our problems including the political violence is because we had weak political parties which were dominated by personalities who operated along ethnic lines. We wanted the funding (to) become democratic so that the political parties become enabled to play their vital role without fear or favour,” he said.

Prof Gumbe said almost all major financial scams in the country have been linked to efforts to access funds for political activity.

“So one wonders what the status of our political parties is going to become 2012. Are they going to continue being dominated by a few people with the fat pockets or are they going to be real vehicles of the voices of the masses and beacons for holding the State accountable?”

In the 2009/2010 financial estimates the Interim Independent Election Commission (IIEC) show that Political Parties Fund got Sh200 million as a grant given to government agencies while the Registrar of Political Parties received Sh70 million

However, Prof Gumbe said most of the fund will be used by the Office of Registrar of Political Parties insisting that the Political Parties Act directs that a specific fund be set up for party financing.

According to Political Parties Act, the Minister for Finance will prepare annual allocations to the Political Parties Fund to be administered by the Registrar.

Fifteen per cent of the money in the fund will be distributed to all political parties that qualify, while 80 per cent will be disbursed proportionately "by reference to the number of votes secured by each of the political parties at the previous parliamentary election." Five per cent of the money will be used to meet the administrative costs of the Fund.


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