NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 2 – Political parties in Kenya have six months to conform to all the requirements of the Political Parties Act or risk deregistration.
According to Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo, standards set by the Act which became operational on Tuesday will weed out parties that do not have a national outlook.
President Mwai Kibaki assented to the law on August 28.
Mutula told Capital News that the delay in commencement of the Act was deliberate to allow the smooth conduct of the Kitutu Masaba by election and the resolution of the election petition of the Gatundu North constituency.
“We were also waiting for the outcome of the petition against (Gatundu North MP) Clement Waibara that is still in court,” he said.
The Minister added that the two-month delay was also informed by the fact that the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) and the Registrar of Political Parties needed time for a formal separation.
Kilonzo said that although the Political Parties Act of 2011 is currently designed to bring sanity in the political arena, it will at a later stage need amendments for instance to increase the number of registered members of political parties from the current 1,000 in majority of the counties, among other requisite conditions.
“This is the only way to eliminate tribalism, political party mandarins who set up political parties based on tribe. One thousand is on the lower side and we will revise the figure upwards before the 2017 elections,” he assured.
He reckoned that the number of registered political parties will be whittled down but that the there was also going to be an emergence of parties that respond to the desires and aspirations of the Kenyan people.
“A lot of existing political parties will die, but out of the ashes of their death other parties will arise that reflect all the good things the nation has craved for,” he said.
According to the new act political parties will be registered if they register not fewer than 1,000 members from majority of the counties and reflect regional, ethnic diversity gender balance and representation of monitories and marginalised groups.
The office of the Registrar of Political Parties had also been made Independent of the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that will manage elections.
The Act also establishes a Political Parties Disputes Tribunal to determine disputes among political parties, members of political parties and those of political parties and independent candidates.
In the recent weeks, MPs Gideon Mbuvi (Makadara, Narc Kenya) and Ephraim Maina (Mathira, Safina) were expelled from their respective parties for flouting their party rules, although the expulsions remain suspended by the courts.
Juja MP William Kabogo was also warned of his conduct in associating with other political parties other than Narc Kenya and campaigning for candidates of other political parties.
According to the Act, political parties are free to form coalitions before or after elections but must deposit coalition agreements with the registrar.
Kilonzo said that politicians must wake up to the realisation that political parties are not means to power but powerful tools of national integration.
“This law makes it possible for us to enhance national integration, not just formation of parties without ideals where it is possible for even a delegate’s meeting to be conducted in mother tongue,” he emphasised.
Although he is at ease with many provisions of the Act, Kilonzo said that it was imprudent for Parliament not to restrict appeals from the Political Parties Tribunal to the High Court.
“International jurisprudence on political parties is that judges are the worst people to use for the purposes of political management, issues that inform a political party of its organisation should be left to politicians and judges should only come in exceptional circumstances,” said the Mbooni MP.
The minister said that an elections financing law is in the pipeline as well as the law on leadership and integrity.