Why campaign funding law was shelved

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Despite its enactment in 2014, it was not until December 2016 that the difficulties of implementing the law to regulate campaign financing began to emerge.

On December 9, eight months to the General Election, hundreds of aspirants swarmed the sixth floor of Anniversary Towers in Nairobi, the headquarters of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

They were there to submit information on their campaign secretariats, the first step in complying with the regulations to implement the Election Campaign Finance Act.

But there was a hitch. While the regulations stated that the requirement was for “candidates” to submit their information, there were technically no candidates at the time, only aspirants.

Parliament’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chairman Samuel Chepkong’a pointed out the apparent discrepancy, saying “you cannot be said to be participating in a General Election before you have been nominated by your party”.

“That is the time you can file the requisite forms with the IEBC,” Mr Chepkong’a said.

“The mere fact that you have participated in party primaries does not mean that you are going to participate in the General Election. You have to be nominated.”

There was also a second problem, he said.

“The requirement itself is not supported by law. It is based on regulations that have not been approved by Parliament.”

At the time, IEBC’s director of Legal and Public Affairs, Ms Praxedes Tororey, said the commission must use the Act as it waits for lawmakers to pass the regulations that the IEBC submitted to Parliament for adoption.

“To date, the regulations have not yet been passed by Parliament. When the commission saw the date of the next election is drawing closer, we decided to use the Act, which is in place,” Ms Tororey said.

When the IEBC met the Committee on Delegated Legislation to discuss the regulations, it was found to have delayed in coming up with them, meaning they were time-barred.

The regulations should have been developed and approved at least a year to the elections.

“As it stands, there are no campaign finance regulations because they were not passed by the National Assembly,” Baringo North MP William Cheptumo, chairman of the committee, said at a meeting with IEBC officials.

“And, two, even if they were to be passed, they will be null and void as they should have come 12 months to the elections, which passed in August,” he added.

The House was only too happy to agree with this decision and promptly adopted the report of the committee.

This means that the limits proposed will not apply in this General Election.