2022 elections: Political parties and the rule of law

The Electoral management body might also be required to seriously assist the management of primaries.

In Summary

•Political parties, , must be monitored and forced to abide by the law. Political parties must respect the democratic choices of their party supporters during the nomination process and avoid imposing unpopular candidates on the electorate.

•As already seen, most of the violence is being witnessed associated with the political activities and which are likely to heighten during the nominations is mainly because of voters resisting the imposition of unpopular candidates on them.

Regional political parties
Regional political parties
Image: STAR ILLUSTRATED

As we prepare for political processes that climax with the 2022 general election, the electoral laws that were left mid way before the last voting must be prioritized. The issue of information disclosure on sources of funds, use of the funds, member involvement in party management affairs and accountability of the parties on the performance of their elected and nominated members is critical.

The small issue of managing their primaries within time and within minimum acceptable standards in terms of respecting democratic processes is important. While its fine with the democratic confines, its not very good when nearly all voting matters are decided by courts of the political parties dispute tribunal-its very expensive.

In the 2017 genera election related preparations, two Acts of Parliament the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2016 and the Election Offences Act 2016 came into force ten months before the elections, with impact on the Elections Act of 2011, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act of 2011, the Supreme Court Act of 2012, the Registration of Persons Act of 2012 and the Political parties Act of 2011.

Their implementation was a daunting task. Now, with the anticipated changes through the Constitutional Amendment processes, the sections that were moved forward such as the campaign financing requirements, the awaited boundaries demarcation and possibilities of decentralizing the work of the Political Parties Dispute Resolution Tribunal, to assist during the primaries for candidates with complaints but no fare, accommodation and the geography of Nairobi. Several candidates really suffered in Nairobi in 2017 seeking services of the tribunal.

The Electoral management body might also be required to seriously assist the management of primaries of many political parties ahead of the 2022 general election- for as seen in many failed attempts to conduct their party elections, Annual General Meetings and or Parliamentary Party meetings, they are incapable of providing democratic space to their membership.

They lack transparency in choosing leaders, have to interest in holding to account or see the prosecution of office- bearers involved in election offences, and their leadership is often arbitrary, autocratic and unaccountable. In addition, past experiences showed that many of the political parties rarely keep and can disclose basic information such as members registers, contributions or use of funds. Many parties either lack of have flawed and poor party nomination rules and processes and many times allow party owners to hugely influence interferes with party electoral processes. Many of the parties are currently funded by taxpayers funds thus must also be accountable and transparent in the conduct of their affairs.

Again, as already shown in past elections, the use and misuse of public resources including involvement of public officers in electoral processes must be re looked. Given the current political extremism in the country, it will be suicidal to allow public officers be directly involved with cause of concern in the electoral processes.

Electoral campaigns are not official government business hence there can never be any justification whatsoever for using public resources to conduct what is essentially unofficial and private business.

Media and other agencies must monitor, document and publish such events with a view to having the culprits prosecuted because using public resources towards political campaigns constitutes blatant waste and misuse of our scarce resources. Public officers must remain non-partisan in the electoral process and not engage in political activity either through acts that could compromise their political neutrality or acting as agents of political parties.

Much as the courts suspended Chief of Staff memo on section 45 (3) of the elections Act 2011 that required public officers interested in participating in elective politics to vacate office sin months before the campaign period, Section 16 (1) of the Public Officer Ethics Act prohibits public officers from participating in partisan politics. Officers incurring expenses including per diems, travel costs and related to involve themselves in party activities must be surcharged.

Media and institutions including the Commission for Administration of Justice, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Teachers Service Commission, National Police Service Commission and others must be vigilant and expose such officers. This constitutes abuse of public office and the Public Service Commission has clear guidelines on such breaches.

Political parties, , must be monitored and forced to abide by the law. Political parties must respect the democratic choices of their party supporters during the nomination process and avoid imposing unpopular candidates on the electorate. As already seen, most of the violence is being witnessed associated with the political activities and which are likely to heighten during the nominations is mainly because of voters resisting the imposition of unpopular candidates on them.

Media should ensure that political parties are made to uphold the Electoral Code of Conduct as relates to conducting their nomination exercises. Media exposure of parties violating the law must be followed up by action by the IEBC, which if cases proved should punish the parties and/or candidates violating the legal requirements of the said Code of Conduct during nominations.

The failure to strictly implement the Political Parties Act, has allowed failure to instil discipline amongst the politicians so that we at least bring sanity in the political/economic spheres of the country.