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DEMOCRACY

Political parties are not as bad as perceived

Courtesy of parties’ vibrancy, presence and role, much as it is not so old democracy, Kenya roars and rates high in the global arena

In Summary

• Parties have or should have very elaborate and emancipating ideological standpoints.

• The beliefs are carefully vetted in formative stages to ensure they not only reflect the ideals of democracy but also drive a political party’s identity and being. 

Speaker Justin Muturi with ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna during the People's Dialogue Forum organised by Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) in Nairobi, March 5, 2020. /PSC
Speaker Justin Muturi with ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna during the People's Dialogue Forum organised by Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) in Nairobi, March 5, 2020. /PSC

The bedrock of politics is political parties. The Constitution in articles 91 and 92 envisaged the centrality of political parties by entrenching the basis of their formation, governance and the overarching objectives.

The Constitution further directs enactment of enabling laws and institutions to attain the intent. Out of which, laws such as Political Parties Act and related legalisation as well as public Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) such as the Office of Registrar of Political Parties and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, among others were established.

Gong by the current situation in the country, the journey of political parties particularly the struggle for multiparty democracy is a chequered one. Indeed, we have to give credit to many individuals and formations that led from the front and bore the brunt of the struggle to freedoms we enjoy today.

 

The stringent legal requirements for forming  a party are not a mean feat. The two-stage process for provisional and full registration have a fair share of thresholds pertaining uniqueness of name and symbol; membership;  governance; legal documentation;  country-wide office; sustainable asset base; presence and a host of other requirements.. What more! All these are scrutinised by ORPP within very strict statutory timelines.  This tells the seriousness placed in the entire continuum of becoming of a political party institution.

Parties have or should have very elaborate and emancipating ideological standpoints. The beliefs are carefully vetted in formative stages to ensure they not only reflect the ideals of democracy but also drive a political party’s identity and being.  If these foundational philosophies are put into optimal practice, progressive politician can be attained in the long run.

A person who has tasted only from his/her mother may think it is the best of all. This adage aptly depicts the broadened space parties have afforded to citizens since the reintroduction of multiparty democracy.People can now freely and consciously exercise political rights through parties. The much-needed participation of the citizenry in parties's affairs as members or through affiliation  is now a reality. The special interest groups have been given legal recognition in the governance organs and membership and therefore obliging parties to feature them in their structures and decisions . The net effect is a framework of accountability to the people.

Through established platforms, parties are able come together and deliberate on a common agenda and engage relevant stakeholders. The Political Parties Liaison Committee, a dialogue platform arrangement compromising of the IEBC, ORPP and the political parties is an example. 

In the recent past, PPLC has delved into the Building Bridges Initiative and the various electoral reforms. The platform is also in the cards of re-establishing county PPLCs outfits meant to reach out to the people at the grassroots.

According to Registrar's  records, there are over 80 and counting parties  (69 fully registered) and provisionally registered parties. This umber has been a subject of raging debate over time. Looking at it in terms of uniqueness of each of the parties, ideological persuasion and many parameters of foundation and object, the numbers are good for the country. 

Socially, parties have also offered solutions to the country with much-needed alternative voice and to some laudable extent, employment. The welfare programmes and initiatives run or associated with some of them have also gone a long way in changing lives for better for the underprivileged.

 
 

Courtesy of parties’ vibrancy, presence and role, much as it is not so old democracy, Kenya roars and rates high in the global arena. The different continental countries that have sought counsel from the country avers to our political profuse.

Mutethia Wa Mberia, Gigiri