3 June 2012

Kenya: New Bill Set to Limit Election Spending

Photo: Lauren Everitt/AllAfrica
A voter participates in mock elections in Nairobi (file photo).

The days are numbered for politicians who buy their way into leadership through unchecked spending over the election period. If the proposed Campaign Financing Bill passes, candidates who overspend may be disqualified from contesting.

In addition they could be fined Sh2 million or imprisoned for five years or both. All candidates contesting in an election will have to spend within the amount that will be fixed by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

The Star has established that the commission will pitch for a low threshold of spending in order to promote integrity in access to leadership. This would also promote fairness and access to leadership by the less-endowed. Candidates and their parties will be required to open and run bank accounts for campaigns. They must also set up campaign committees. "Where a political party or a referendum committee commits an offence under this act, every member of the governing body of that political party or the referendum committee shall be liable for the offence," the Bill says.

IEBC will keep a register of all expenditure committees of candidates and parties, supervise expenses, verify sources of the money, monitor expenses and receive expenditure reports. The mandatory committees shall be formed at least three months before a general election, within one week of a notice of a by-election, and within two weeks after after the publication of the referendum question. In their expenditure accounts, candidates will only take in their personal contribution, contribution from the party, and donations from lawful and declared organisations or persons.

The proposed law covers the party nominations as well. Both parties and candidates must give a preliminary expenditure report within seven days of the party nominations and a final expenditure report three months after the election. The expenditure reports must include all records showing all transactions, assets acquired and commitments entered into, a balance sheet, an income and expenditure statement and a cash flow statement. "A candidate, a political party or a referendum committee which fails to disclose funds or donations as required under this act shall, in the absence of any reasonable explanation, be disqualified from contesting in the election," it says.

Where non-disclosure of funds as required is discovered after the election, the commission will disqualify those candidates from contesting the next election or by election. Where candidates are disqualified before an election, they shall not be replaced with other candidates from their mother political parties. The commission will publish the spending limits three months into the election. The publication will also include contribution limits, loan limits and limit for media spending as well. These limits will be decided based on the difference in size of the electoral area, the type of election, population of the electoral area, number of party members in the electoral area and the communication infrastructure of the area.

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