Kenyan MPs can now comfortably keep details of their campaign money secret following a late night session in the last parliament that saw them alter the Campaign Finance Bill, 2013 to work in their favour.
The Election Campaign Bill is an Act of parliament established to provide for the regulation, management, expenditure and accountability of election campaign fund during elections and after referendum campaigns.
Pursuant to article 88 (4) (i) of the constitution and section 4(i) of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act, the IEBC is responsible for the regulation and administration of campaign financing.
The IEBC among other roles as outlined in the Campaign Bill 2013 is required to supervise candidates, political parties and referendum committees in relation to campaign expenses; set spending limits and enforce compliance with such limits as well as verify sources of contributions to a candidate, political party or referendum committee.
Previously, as outlined in the Bill, the IEBC had set the limit of how much MPs can spend in an election campaign but the legislators made amendments to that clause in order to allow them surpass the limit.
NGO’S AND LOBBY GROUPS TO FUND CAMPAIGNS
An expose’ in the latest edition of the Nairobi Law Monthly magazine, reveals that MPs provided a provision for non-governmental organizations to support their campaigns which had been earlier outlawed in the campaign bill as outlined in section 15(1).
Among other clauses that the MPs trashed is section 7(1) of the campaign finance bill which required candidates to set up a committee consisting of three members that would keep an eye on their spending;
“7(1) A candidate intending to contest in a party nomination or after the party nomination, who is duly nominated to contest in elections as the candidate for the party, shall, in accordance with the constitution and rules of the political party, establish a party candidate expenditure committee which shall be registered by the Party.”
MPS – DON’T TELL US HOW TO SPEND OUR MONEY
Also omitted was section 11(i) of the Bill that required party candidates to submit to the political party of that candidate and to the commission, records detailing their expenditure at nomination stage within seven days after party nominations.
According to the article by Al Farouk Maalim, MPs are quoted claiming that no one should tell them how to spend their money.
“Why should somebody come to work as a safety guard on how you are going to spend your money? Am going to spend, then am going to put my money together, then use it on the ceiling, and I will know how to spend it, lawfully,” Muriuki Njagagua, MP for Mbeere North is quoted.
BILL AMENDED ‘OVERTIME’
The MPs are reported to have made the amendments on the Campaign Finance Bill following a last minute decision to extend the house sitting from 6:30pm to the conclusion of business in the order paper, a move that saw them leave the chambers around 9:55 pm.
The amendments were effected by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee of the National Assembly and submitted by the vice-chairperson Priscilla Nyokabi.
The election Campaign Bill (2012) had been tabled by the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs prior to the 2013 March 4th election but Parliament swept it under the carpet hence there was no legislation to control spending in last year’s campaigns.
ACCOUNTING AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Judging from the turn of events, MPs are clearly not ready to be accountable enough and in this case the Campaign Finance Bill is likely not to succeed in eliminating the influence of financial resources in the outcome of Kenya’s electoral processes.
As a common saying goes ‘money talks’ and too much of it in campaigns could undermine democracy, after all, everyone has a price an in this case, it’s not just the voters but politicians as well.