Over the last 25 years Kenya’s political landscape has undergone a major metamorphosis, giving rise to one of Africa’s most vibrant multiparty democracies. Kenya has about 66 approved and active political parties, according to records at the Registrar of Political Parties.
This has had far-reaching and transformative consequences on how we conduct our socioeconomic affairs. Parties play a pivotal role in our society because they are the vehicles we use to select most of our leaders.
It therefore follows that the manner in which parties conduct their activities will have inevitable consequences, negative or positive, on the country. Like any other public organisation, if political parties are not transparent and accountable, then they are most likely to deny the public quality leadership.
It is important for Kenya, as a modern and progressive democracy, to adopt tools that will ensure parties deliver on their mandate. They are, after all, funded by the Exchequer or through fundraisers.
As clearing houses for those we elect to lead us and manage our resources, parties should be subjected to periodic or even continuous monitoring and evaluation.
This is not just for accountability, but will give the parties a chance to examine themselves internally to continuously improve their management and systems. During nominations nearly all the registered parties become active, inviting aspirants to seek nomination through their tickets, but only a paltry five or less make it as parliamentary parties.
Parliamentary parties are those whose candidates win parliamentary or county seats. These qualify for funding and ought to be subjected to public scrutiny through measurement tools such as M&E. It is in the interest of parties, and indeed any other entity, to use M&E to assess their strengths, risks and possible limitations and how to resolve them.
To avoid the pitfalls that have led to the premature collapse of some, and for them to stand the test of time, parties require strong principles, systems and policies. It is through the information and knowledge gathered through M&E that organisations build themselves into strong and formidable institutions.
The government has made efforts, through the Registrar, to restore sanity and stop the parties from operating like ragtag entities. Proper, open and accountable systems, created through M&E, will make Kenyans develop faith and genuinely seek membership in such “polished” parties.
Hopefully, this will end the scenario where every election cycle new parties emerge only to disappear as soon as the polls are over. Embracing M&E will ultimately translate to good governance and best practices in political and democratisation processes.
The current political predicament pitting the two key presidential candidates and their outfits should have been handled as a contest between the two main parties, instead of as a duel between the two individuals.
This would only have been possible if party governance structures were strong and not subject to the whims of their presidential candidates.
This is where M&E comes in handy in developing strong policy foundations that offer guidance in conflict or negotiations.
Parliamentary parties funded by taxpayer money should have their operations monitored and their outcomes evaluated. For instance, it is only through M&E that we will establish how inclusive the parties are in promoting gender equity. This is how we will ascertain if they created suitable opportunities for vulnerable groups such as youth, women and the disadvantaged to actively participate in party leadership and seek elective positions without any bias.
Finally, through an efficient M&E platform, leaders, policymakers, the government and other service providers will be in a position to show proof that their goals were attained and if not, how to mitigate against that and achieve their desired targets.
This will also create an oppoking. Accessing the information also leads to a more empowered electorate able to make more rational decisions.
Managing director, Advantech Consulting
[email protected]; www.advantench.co.ke