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IEBC wants Political Parties Act amended

Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY IBRAHIM ORUKO AND DAVID MWERE

THE Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is now considering an amendment to the Political Parties Act to change the way of calculating funding for the parties.

The Act provides that political parties funding should be computed on the basis of election votes. The new proposed formula is based on the number of elected representatives that each party has.

Political parties have been urging the IEBC to speed up the final release of election results so that they can work out how much state funding they are entitled to.

However the IEBC has not yet finalised the exact figures from the March 4 election. There are allegedly still substantial differences between the presidential and parliamentary numbers.

The Political Parties Act says that, for the purposes of funding, the total number of votes secured by a political party shall be computed by adding the total number of votes obtained in the election for the President, members of Parliament, county governors and members of county assemblies.

“We are having sleepless nights reconciling the presidential results and those of the other positions. Over a million votes must be reconciled with the others and if the requirement is not changed then it will cast the IEBC in a negative light,” said the commissioner. The IEBC has devised three options that would resolve the impasse.

The first option is to champion an amendment through the Registrar of Political Parties to use the number of elected members as the basis for sharing out political funding.

Another option would be support an MP to move the changes on the floor of the House. The final option would be to go to court case to argue that present formula impedes the growth of democracy.

The commissioner told the Star that the IEBC is already working with the acting Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndungu to facilitate a consultative forum of all the 55 registered parties. The first meeting was held in Naivasha recently involving officials of the smaller parties.

The Political Parties Collaborative Leadership Forum meeting agreed to petition the National Assembly to amend the “offending provisions” in the Act.

They resolved to petition the National Assembly to amend the entry point for funding to at least five percent of the votes in the preceding general election. The caucus is also looking at the possibility of going to court.

“We need to relook at those provisions so that winners don’t take everything and thousands of votes are just a nullity,” said Jane Njiru, the forum’s secretary.

The forum wants to end the total number of votes as the basis for party funding. They are now pushing for representation in Parliament and county assemblies as the basis for the calculation. A change in the formula could both help the smaller parties and resolve the numbers problem for the IEBC.

If the representatives formula, as opposed to votes, were to be applied, ODM would get the lion’s share of party funding followed by TNA and URP. ODM has 78 MPs, TNA 74, URP 60 and Wiper 19 with the smaller parties trailing behind them.