Registrar of Parties a toothless monitor

Unable to tame politician and parties to adhere to the law.

In Summary
  • It is quite ironic, unless vested interests are at play, for such a sensitive office to have an ‘acting registrar of political parties’ for close to 10 years.
  • Politicians spew hate speech, incite the masses, practise divisive politics and go scot free.
Aspirants at the Registrar of Political Parties office in Nairobi on May 2, 2017
Aspirants at the Registrar of Political Parties office in Nairobi on May 2, 2017
Image: PATRICK VIDIJA

The Political Parties Act, 2011 shifted the governance and management of political parties from the office of the Registrar of Societies.

Initially, political parties were registered under and governed by the Societies Act. Political parties did not have legal personality or perpetual succession, they basically belonged to individuals. Some unscrupulous people formed parties with a view to selling them for monetary gain.

The establishment of the political parties laws thus came in handy, providing a legal framework for registration, regulation and funding of political parties. The laws established the office of the Registrar of Political Parties, which is responsible for implementing and enforcing the law.

As a nation we have witnessed clashes largely along tribal and political lines, the most recent being the 2007-08 post-election violence which claimed more than 1,200 lives, displaced more than 600,000 and caused unrecoverable economic setbacks to many others.

The situation continues to be volatile and one key office that can help address this electioneering crisis is that of the Registrar of Political Parties.

The office is mandated to ensure; A person shall not be a member of more than one political party at the same time; A person who, while being a member of a political party forms another political party; joins in the formation of another political party;  joins another political party; in any way or manner, publicly advocates for the formation of another political party; or promotes the ideology, interests or policies of another political party.

This has not been the case. Since the inception of the law to manage parties, the Registrar of Political Parties has remained toothless and unable to tame politicians and political parties to adhere to the law.

Politicians and political parties continue to flaunt the regulations with no tangible measures being taken by the mandated office. Politicians spew hate speech, incite the masses, practise divisive politics and go scot free.

It is such issues that collectively the Registrar of Political Parties and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission must seek a remedy to, for a stable nation.

It is quite ironic, unless vested interests are at play, for such a sensitive office to have an ‘acting registrar of political parties’ for close to 10 years.

A referendum to amend the 2010 Constitution is in the offing. The drivers of this change are politicians, who will be moving around the country supporting or opposing the BBI team’s final recommendations and rallying voters to take sides.

It is therefore imperative for the Registrar of Political Parties together with the cohesion commission to stamp their authority for a cohesive and stable nation moving forward.