Politics

Jubilee and ODM pledge goodies to small parties

Jubilee and ODM pledge goodies to small parties

The ruling Jubilee party and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) plan to entice small parties to their new coalition and shield MPs from the risk of losing their seats.

Their strategy seeks to lift sanctions on members of other parties joining the vehicle Mr Odinga will use to contest the presidency in 2022 and extending State funding to fringe parties.

Among the proposed changes to the law is ensuring that a member “who joins another party is not deemed to have resigned from their present outfit”.

The inclusion of this clause is expected to open floodgates of party hopping.

The current Political Parties Act spells out two instances that shall apply to a member of a party being deemed to have resigned.

One is where a member “in any way or manner, publicly advocates for the formation of another political party”.

The other is where he or she “promotes the ideology, interests or policies of another party”.

To factor the additional exemption, the Political Parties (Amendments) Bill, 2021 provides: “Subsection (1) (c), (d) and (e) shall not apply to a member of a political party which enters or proposes to enter into a merger or a coalition with another.”

Once the law is amended, members of parties that will form the coalition can freely associate without legal consequences.

The bill is intended to facilitate President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga’s Jubilee and ODM parties respectively craft a coalition widely expected to be named Azimio la Umoja Movement.

They have set in motion the legislative plan to have the coalition fully registered by February.

The bill provides that a coalition political party should deposit a pre-election agreement with the Registrar of Political Parties at least six months to the General Election.

The proposed revision of the formula for distributing the Political Parties Fund is partially to benefit small parties the two leaders are propping up through their regional allies.

Currently, 80 per cent of the funding is based on the total number of votes secured by every party, 15 per cent on the number of women, youth, the disabled, ethnic minorities and marginalised communities elected and five per cent for the Fund’s administrative expenses.

Financial muscle

The law requires that parties get at least three per cent of the votes cast in a General Election to qualify for the money.

This rule has locked out many parties that do not have the financial muscle to criss-cross the country and sell their programmes and get votes.

In the proposed amendments, 70 per cent of the fund would be proportionately shared based on the total number of votes secured by every party in the General Election.

“Fifteen per cent of the fund will be shared proportionately to political parties based on the number of special interest candidates it will field in the General Election,” the bill says.

Ten per cent will be shared out based on the number of representatives elected by a political party and five per cent will go to the Fund’s administrative expenses.

It will no longer be mandatory for parties to have 40 ward representatives, three senators, three governors and 20 MPs to qualify for funding.