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Peaceful campaigns
Tuesday, 21 February 2012 10:12

Funds laws to foster peaceful campaigns

Parliament must prioritise the passing of the proposed campaign financing law.

The drafters of the law intended to create a level playing field among contestants and to reduce electoral corruption and other related incidents, a major stride in ensuring democratic elections in Kenya.

However, the role the new law was meant to play before the General Election is being watered down because campaigns have already started and huge amounts of money are being dished out to lure supporters.

Without a campaign financing law, the stage will be set for another electoral crisis, like in 2007/2008, when resources were employed to mobilise supporters for causes that almost destroyed our nation.

Politicians have since last year been involved in campaigns and it is lamentable that Parliament has yet to pass the crucial law.

As the campaigns take shape this year with their polarising nature, it will be difficult to rally support in the House for the new law.

The proposed legislation seeks to restrict and regulate spending and the funding sources of politicians, a move that would minimise corruption, which peaks during the electioneering period.

The Bill wisely proposes to limit the amount of contributions that candidates and political parties can receive from individuals, businesses, unions, and foreign sources.

The requirement by the Bill that politicians and political parties make public their spending and sources of campaign finances will ensure that the money is raised only through legitimate ways.

Timely passage of the new law would also give the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission time to put in place adequate measures that are required to ensure full compliance.

Undoubtedly, politicians rely on wealthy individuals, businesses, and groups to fund their campaigns in return for favours after the elections. Others use State resources and public finances to run their campaigns.

The secrecy that has shrouded political financing in Kenya has been an impediment to free and fair elections.

It also sets the stage for corruption that continues to weaken public institutions and ruin our economy and politics.

The aspirants for the presidency are said to have raised billions of shillings to finance their campaigns.

Some plan to bankroll their own MPs, governors, and senators.

If this is not checked, the intra-party and inter-party competition will be based on the capacity to fundraise and not strong social and economic issues.

Such elections are likely to raise tensions that could degenerate into violence, especially when the money is used to hire criminals and bribe voters.

Equally important, the billions of shillings that the candidates would inject in the economy are likely to spark unprecedented inflation.

Although we appreciate the overwhelming mandate and tight programme the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is running this election year, it must take charge and ensure that campaign financing and rallies are properly regulated to guarantee free and fair elections.

Mr Obonyo is the convener of The Youth Congress. ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

 

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