8th August: Political Parties and Politicians alignments in Preparation for elections.
Nine parties announced plans to merge and form Jubilee Party. President Kenyatta will use the new party in seeking for a second term. The plan for the party was unveiled in state house. The nine parties have already written to the registrar of parties asking for their dissolution. The party will hold a National delegates Convention on Tuesday, 9th September 2016 at Kasarani Arena, between 2pm and 7pm where delegates will consider and ratify this decision.
Opposition MPs accused our Jubilee of using tax-payers money in running its affairs. They further claimed that leaders from smaller parties were bribed to join the merger. The MPs who included Senator James Orengo, Homa Bay County Woman Representative Gladys Wanga, and MPs Junet Mohammed (Suna East) and Joseph Oyugi Magwanga of Kasipul challenged Jubilee to prove them otherwise.
Nevertheless, rumours emerged that Raila Odinga, the leader of opposition is also planning for a merger that will counter Jubilee in the next election. According to media reports Odinga is warming up to other five parties. The five parties that are likely to be woed into the merger are Wiper Democratic Movement, KANU, Amani National Congress, NARC and NARC Kenya. It is not certain whether the merger shall retain the name CORD. If Mr. Odinga is endorsed to vie for the Presidency he shall be doing it for the fourth time.
According to the Registrar of Parties, only four parties have been registered since the last election. The parties are Amani National Congress, Citizen Convention Party, United Democratic Party and Double Double Alliance. This brings the number of political parties in Kenya to 64. To register a political party, it must have 1000 registered members in at least 24 counties and physical offices therein. The party must also pay Ksh 500,000.
Further, many members of the County Assembly are rushing for diplomas and degrees for fear of being locked out in 2017 general elections. Currently, there is a proposed bill that requires them to be degree holders. Those who will fail to reach the required threshold will be locked out. In the entire country, there has been calls to have more educated representatives especially at the county level due to the work of oversight that is expected of them.
Furthermore, a clan in Mandera County has embraced negotiated democracy. This type of rotational democracy is meant to avoid dominance by the powerful and well populated clans. The model which will be applied in 2017 elections will send home all elected leaders in the county to give chance to leaders from other clans.
17th August: Appointment of a New Electoral Commission Expected by End of September
A seven member electoral commission is expected to be recruited by the end of September. The joint parliamentary select committee had a 30 days deadline within which to agree on electoral reforms expected before the 2017 general election. After lengthy deliberations the bi-partisan committee agreed on a formula to have the current IEBC commissioners exit and the recruit another commission.
When the current electoral commissioners appeared before a joint parliamentary select committee they chose to avoid questions on corruption allegations made against them. However, after brief private consultations, the group, led by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Issack Hassan, agreed to submit a written memorandum on allegations facing individual members of the commission and secretariat.
Further, the commissioners opposed the creation of a new voter register citing that it would be time-consuming and costly. The commissioners offered to quit the commission if they were paid their full salaries plus allowances until the end of their term. The commissioners also warned the committee against any recommendations that would find them guilty since they would fight for their innocence thereby delaying the much needed reforms.
Meanwhile, the Attorney General Githu Muigai proposed a team be formed to determine the amount to be paid to the exiting IEBC commissioners for the period remaining in their tenure. The Attorney General’s proposal came as the President received the concluded report on IEBC reforms.
A series of phone calls to the major coalitions’ leaders led to a breakthrough in the team discussing electoral reforms. Both Jubilee and Cord leaders had to make concessions from the positions they had taken in their previous grandstanding. Cord gave in to Jubilee’s Coalition’s position that the next IEBC team cannot be nominated by political parties. Instead, members of the committee were reported to have agreed that the next commission will be recruited by a panel of nine.
The panel will have one member each from the Catholic Church, the National Council of Churches of Kenya, the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, the Hindu Council and the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, the Law Society of Kenya and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, with the Parliamentary Service Commission nominating two members who are not legislators. Like in the previous recruitment, the Public Service Commission will provide the secretariat - the support staff for the recruitment panel.
Jubilee dropped its position on having no changes to the Constitution but maintained that the period for the determination of a presidential election petition would be kept at the current 14 days stated in the Constitution.
The team conducting talks on electoral reforms sought a one year extension to supervise the implementation of its recommendations. The team presented their proposal to a joint House leadership meeting but it was not approved. The final electoral reforms report was tabled on 23rd August, both the President and Opposition leader accepted the proposals put forward and promised their full support in the implementation of the proposals. According to the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee the new IEBC commissioners ought to be in the office by 30th September 2016.
15th Aug: Kanu calls for a forensic audit on the voters register
Elsewhere, the Kenya African National Union (KANU) party officials called for a hastened forensic audit on voter register, failure to which they threatened their party won’t participate in 2017 general elections. The party further claimed that the ruling coalition is planning to use the old register to rig 2017 elections.
In another place, six MPs from the old Nyanza province echoed KANU and demanded for a new voter register. They claimed that the current register contains names of dead people and under-age who aren’t supposed to vote. The MPs who comprised John Mbadi (Suba), Mr Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town), Mr Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) Mr Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda) and Mr Fred Outa (Nyando) rubbished the proposal to have a forensic audit on the register in favour of a new voter register.
18th Aug: Opposition leader wants to be consulted in appointment of IEBC commissioners
Furthermore, the Opposition tabled a proposal that seeks to scrap the role of the President in appointment of electoral commissioners. They claimed that, President Kenyatta may have a bias since he is a participant in the next election. The Opposition leader Raila Odinga further claimed that if the President is appoint the commissioners he should be consulted. The procedure of appointing the commissioners was one of the grievances that led CORD to the streets. In the protests CORD held that IEBC commissioners must be nominated by political parties.
11th August: IEBC Continues Election Planning including Capping Campaigns Expenditure In mid-August, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) published an international tender for the supply of ballot papers and poll registers, in preparation for next year’s General Election. Submission of bids for the approximated sh3.9 billion tender were expected by 7th September 2016. The tender coincided with the looming change of guard in the commission. There are also a number of other big tenders, such as the procurement of electronic voter identification gadgets and results transmission kits. The massive failure of technology in the 2013 election was linked to late procurement of gadgets.
Meanwhile, the IEBC mapped 17 Counties with a possibility high conflict incidence. The Electoral risk map cites Tana River, Lamu, Kwale, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Isiolo, Meru, Narok, Nakuru, Baringo, Nandi, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori counties. The conflict take the following forms: cattle rustling, terror attacks, protests and riots, ethnic clashes, robberies and agro-pastoralist. The analysis on threats of insecurity to the electoral process in Kenya also show Turkana, Samburu, Laikipia, Nyeri, Kiambu and Kilifi counties as having an average number of incidents of conflicts. Counties with low number of incidents include Kitui, Kajiado, Makueni, Taita-Taveta and Embu.
The electoral commission also issued new campaign finance rules limiting spending by political parties, party contributors and aspirants during the 2017 electioneering period beginning in February 2017. IEBC has put a sh5.2 billion spending cap on presidential candidates, Members of Parliament Sh33 million, and governors, senators and woman representatives at Sh432 million. Members of County Assembly have a ceiling of Ksh10.3 million in some wards. The rules have also set ceilings on political parties expenditure at Sh15 billion and single-source contributors to political parties to Sh3 billion.
We covered this issue in our blog. Read it here.
29th: Party-hopping and Kenyan MPs
The riotous nature of Kenya’s democracy can be credited to the bad culture of party hopping. Kenya’s political marketplace has been deprived of ideals due to the quick way than one can switch loyalty from one party to another, in the language of our politicians “there are mere vehicles” for an ego trip. On the other hand parties are managed like tuck shops by one man and for one man.
An attempt by the Joint Committee on Electoral Reforms to reign in Party-hopping stirred heated debate in the National Assembly when their report was tabled. Parliamentarians from across the political divide were uncomfortable with the proposal curbing party hopping. The specific provision reads, “After the names of candidates are forwarded to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, a candidate who changes their party shall not be eligible to contest in an election as a candidate of the new party or as an independent candidate.” The argument by the MPs was that the provision violates article 36 of the constitution which on freedom of association. To them, this was synonymous to making parties tyrannical.
However, Parliament was not able to edit out the party hopping clause as President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cord leader Raila Odinga were in consensus over the issue.
We analyzed the party hopping issue in our blog. Read it here