How Rotich has denied ODM, Jubilee billions for eight years

In Summary

• According to ODM Finance Director Joshua Kawino, it costs a party at least Sh95 million every year to run offices in 24 counties together with its headquarters.

• Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju says party complying with the law but some offices have rent arrears.

Treasury Cs Henry Rotich.
Treasury Cs Henry Rotich.
Image: FILE

The Jubilee administration has failed to comply with the law on the funding of political parties that could see the ruling party and ODM receive billions from the government purse.

For the last eight years, Treasury has failed to comply with this crucial section of the law which seeks to strengthen democracy by ensuring political parties thrive in the country.

The fund created in 2011 was meant to make parties operations possible in the face of stringent laws that requires all political parties to have offices in at least 24 counties

According to ODM Finance Director Joshua Kawino, it costs a party at least Sh95 million every year to run offices in 24 counties together with its headquarters.

But with the lack of commitment from the government to obey the 0.3 per cent rule, parties according to Kawino, are finding it harder to operate within the law.

The same is shared by ruling Jubilee party, which despite having numbers in both houses, is still finding it hard to run active offices around the country.

“We are complying with the law but we are having challenges, some of our offices have rent arrears so we keep negotiating with landlords to give us more time, it is certainly not easy,” admitted Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju.

ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna said ODM is contemplating pressing contempt of court charges against Treasury CS Henry Rotich and House Spweaker Justin Muturi.

In 2016, ODM sought court orders compelling the National Treasury to adhere to the 0.3 per cent rule.

Justice Roselyne Aburili directed that the orders issued on 31 October 2017 take effect from the 2018/2019 financial year and still the government has not complied.

“The only way forward is to bring contempt proceedings against Treasury CS Henry Rotich and speaker of the National Assembly Justine Muturi. There is no need of having laws in the books which we don’t follow,” Sifuna said.

“The court order was directed to the speaker and Treasury.”

In March this year, Treasury in a bold move told Parliament to consider changing the law to review the share of cash allocated to political parties arguing the current constitutional provision is impractical.

The Political Parties Act 2011, which established the Political Parties Fund sets an allocation of not less than 0.3 per cent of national revenues collected must be allocated to political parties.

The Treasury reckons that Kenya cannot afford to cede 0.3 per cent of its revenues to the parties — currently ODM and Jubilee — without hurting counties and national government operations.

It has been allocating the fund Sh371 million each year from 2015 to date instead of more than Sh3.6 billion annually.

“In this regard, we are proposing amendments to the Act to ensure a sustainable funding model to political parties,” Treasury chief administrative secretary Nelson Gachuhie told Parliament.

Sifuna accused the government of insincerity saying the government should have instead appealed the High Court decision.

“You can’t tell a court that you cannot obey an order because you can’t pay. There is a valid court order that they are not obeying,” added Sifuna.

Computation of a party’s performance is based on the total votes garnered in the preceding election of the president, members of parliament, county governors, and members of county assemblies.

The 0.3 percent is equivalent to over Sh 3 billion of the current national audited accounts.

Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu, however, still believe the 0.3 percent is still a reality if all stakeholders – Parliament, parties and Treasury – engage each other in a constructive manner to find a way forward.

 “Our position has always been that parties should be funded but the onus lies with treasury, and if it reaches there our hands are tied. There needs to be serious stakeholders engagement of people involved between parties, Treasury, parliament so that we see what is the best way forward,” Nderitu told the Star.

“I cannot say we are not happy because we have something to give the parties but we need more resources for the political parties.”

Jubilee also backs stakeholders meeting, saying it is the only way to have parties get their constitutionally provided piece of the pie.

 “Certainly as a party we need the money because running a party in 47 Counties, a minimum of 24 Counties full staffed as required by Political party Act is almost impossible to comply without budgetary provision,” Tuju said.

“On the other hand as ruling party, we cannot be in confrontation with the Treasury, so we believe we will constructively engage and come up with a way forward.”

During 2013/2014, then The National Alliance (TNA) received the lion’s share, pocketing Sh 88,834,394, followed by ODM (Sh78,080,095 ) and William Ruto’s URP (Sh28,025,510 ).

In the following 2014/2015, Uhuru’s TNA took 155,849,814, ODM Sh136,982,623 and URP Sh49,167,562.

In 2015/2016, the Registrar of Political Parties wired to TNA Sh158,979,845, ODM Sh139,647,018 and URP Sh50,213,137.

During the 2016/2017 financial year, Wiper Party joined the fray, receiving Sh 24,140,215 against TNA’s Sh149,396,786, ODM’s Sh131,310,799 and URP’s Sh47,131,758.

In the 2017/18, only Jubilee and ODM shared the allocation, receiving Sh240,374,863 and Sh112,255,637 respectively.