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Kenya: State Funding for Political Parties

(Nov. 2, 2007) The Kenyan Parliament recently adopted a bill on political parties, under which, for the first time, the state will provide state funding to political parties. The bill prescribes that a new Office of the Register of Political Parties will be responsible not only for registering and funding, but also for regulating the activities and conduct of, all political parties in the country. The Register will have the power to reject an application for registration if the political party is "founded on ethnic, age, tribal, racial, gender, religious or provisional provisions." (Kenya: Parliament 'Unanimously' Passes Bill to See State Fund Political Parties, NATIONAL TELEVISION, Sept. 27, 2007, Open Source Center No. AFP20070927950078.)

Only political parties that garner at least five percent of the vote in general elections and in which at least one third of the office holders are women will be eligible for the state funds, the bill stipulates. It further provides, in order to limit switching of party affiliation, that members who propagate information on behalf of a different political party or advocate the formation of another political party will be deemed to have resigned from their original party. It is surmised that this move would obviate technical defections, a practice common in the current parliament. In addition, political parties are required under the new legislation to declare their funding from external and internal sources to the Register; failure to do so will incur harsh penalties, including deregistration. The bill awaits approval by the President in order to become law. (Id.)