Revealed: How politicians spent in 2017 polls

Senators spent an average of Sh35 million, Women Reps Sh22.8 million and MPs Sh18.2 million

In Summary

• Woman Reps who clinched the seats spent up to Sh32 million.

• An unnamed senator spent Sh100 million in the campaigns, the report says.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati at the National Tallying Centre in Bomas, on August 9, 2017
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati at the National Tallying Centre in Bomas, on August 9, 2017

A new report has lifted the lid on the cost of politics in Kenya for the first time showing what candidates spent in the 2017 political contest.

The report shows that contesting the Senate seat was the most financially demanding, with candidates spending almost twice as that of the National Assembly.

The report shows that Senate candidates in the 2017 polls spent an average of Sh35.5 million.

Woman Representatives spent an average of Sh22.8 million while members of the National Assembly spent Sh18.2 million.

Member of County Assembly seat was the least expensive at Sh3.1 million.

The report did not cover the cost of gubernatorial and presidential polls.

The new report shows that regardless of the seat contested, the more you spend, the greater the chance of winning.

“Our survey found that, on the whole, the more a candidate spends, the greater their chance of electoral victory. Woman Rep candidates who won their race spent almost three times as much as those who were unsuccessful,” the report reads in part. 

“Victorious Senators spent more than double than those who lost. In the race for National Assembly seats, successful candidates spent 50 per cent more than those who did not win.”

In fact, the report shows that candidates who won the Senate seat spent an average of Sh49 million.

Woman Reps who clinched the seats spent up to Sh32 million.

An unnamed senator spent Sh100 million in the campaigns, the report says.

The report titled 'The Cost of Politics in Kenya: Implication for Political Participation and Development' was launched on Friday. It is authored by Karuti Kanyiga and Tom Mboya.

The report says spending does not stop for those who are elected.

On average, elected MPs spend as much as Sh780,000 a month on projects for constituents and donations to local interest groups. This is more than their basic monthly salary before allowances and benefits.

The Senate was considered one of the most competitive seats in 2017, with the report saying it attracted veteran politicians.

IEBC intends to regulate campaign financing in 2022. 

Why are the political elite willing to spend a fortune to win an elective office? The report says Kenyan legislators are among the best paid in the world. Their monthly pay is at least Sh1 million — including allowances.

“Furthermore, the position is prestigious. Upon winning an election, the person acquires a new status complete with the title of Mheshimiwa…This title opens doors to many offices. The title is associated with ‘power and influence’ because one can access any office without difficulties,” the report states.

It also says politicians use their political connections to get lucrative government contracts and create opportunities for relatives.

“This is also an opportunity for self-enrichment through contracts with public institutions. Furthermore, proximity to power enables those elected to also create opportunities for relatives to enrich themselves,” the report says.

The office allows for patron-client relationships and access to state resources. The report says this drives the cost of politics as elites compete to access the centre of power.

This largesse, the report notes, does not only increase the cost of politics but also undermines accountability.

MPs become much more accountable to those who give them favours, rather than voters.

But the report also notes that voters also drive the cost of politics by demanding hand-outs.

According to the report, the elections are more expensive during party primaries than the actual polls.

This is because securing the ticket of a dominant party enables a candidate to ride on the popularity of the outfit or their leaders during the general election campaign.

The report shows that Jubilee was the most expensive political ticket to seek elections on for Senate and the Woman Rep seats in 2017.

According to the report, the merger of several parties including President Uhuru Kenyatta’s TNA and DP William Ruto’s URP raised the stakes in their respective strongholds.

The report says the Senate was the most competitive seat in 2017 because it was contested by veterans.

“It [Senate] attracts some of the most experienced politicians in the country and in particular political elites who have served as constituency MPs in the past,” the report states.

Despite the varied cost of elections, Woman Reps, MPs and their Senate counterparts are entitled to same salary and allowances.


WATCH: The latest videos from the Star