So why does the taxpayer fund political parties?

What you need to know:

  • Anathema: Holding internal party elections is anathema. They are at best avoided and, if held at all, at the very last minute.
  • How could PNU have a presidential hopeful in 2012 and be dead in 2014?

A week ago yesterday, the media reported that The National Alliance (TNA), the United Republican Party (URP) and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) would get Sh90 million, Sh28.2 million and Sh87.4 million respectively from the public purse.

Well, that’s the law; you and I must fund these so-called parties. This is the money from the Political Parties Fund into which the taxpayer puts money to fund Kenya’s top performing parties.

Before I delve further into this issue, I deem it important to remind you that on the same day the media reported the windfall to the three parties they also informed us that the Party of National Unity (PNU) had been deregistered.

When had you last heard about PNU? Not until the deregistration and last week when it said it will fight its deregistration in court.

PNU came into being in the lead-up to the now infamous 2007 General Election and was the vehicle used by President Kibaki to ascend to his blood-soaked second term.

Nobody had heard of the party since the death of its chairman, Prof George Saitoti, in June of 2012. Indeed, most of its members decamped to TNA.

How could PNU rise and fall in seven years? How could it have a presidential hopeful in 2012 and be dead in 2014?

These questions could be put differently: How come TNA and URP, which did not exist in January 2012, are in power as the Jubilee Coalition?

Where is the 54-year-old Kenya African National Union (Kanu)?


Kanu remained largely dead under founding President Kenyatta. It only came alive in a General Election year to nominate parliamentary and civic candidates.

Kanu was the all-powerful instrument of political monopoly under President Moi. He fashioned it into a personal juggernaut for pursuing his political agenda.

There is nothing republican about Deputy President William Ruto’s URP. The man and his party are Moi and Kanu Mark II.

URP was born after Mr Ruto fell out with a political ally called Raila Odinga — who he now contemptuously refers to as jamaa wa vitendawili (he who speaks in riddles).

Just as URP is principally a Kalenjin political vehicle, so also is President Kenyatta’s TNA — a Gikuyu, Embu, Meru-anchored personal political tool.

The two men went into an alliance targeting the rich vote banks of the Rift Valley and Central and Mt Kenya regions to take them to power and, hopefully, shield them against the menacing ICC.

Homa Bay Senator Otieno Kajwang told us in 2012 that “ODM (Orange Democratic Movement) is Raila Odinga and Raila Odinga is ODM”.

In the lead-up to the very public mess that was the February internal poll, ODM stalwarts reminded all and sundry that it was a Luo party.


So, why does the taxpayer fund these so-called parties? According to the law, in order for them to serve us better. The law says we fund the parties so that they may:

  • promote the representation in Parliament and in the county assemblies of women, persons with disability, youth, ethnic and other minorities and marginalised communities;
  • promote active participation by individual citizens in political life;
  • cover the election expenses of the political party and the broadcasting of the policies of the political party;
  • bringing the parties’ influence to bear on the shaping of public opinion; and
  • cover the administrative and staff expenses of the party which shall not be more than 30 per cent of the moneys allocated to it.

Question: Has Mr Kalonzo Musyoka’s Ukambani-based Wiper Democratic Movement held a meeting to educate the rank and file on the importance of popularising the party’s position on anything?

Answer: Never, and the same goes for ODM, URP and TNA.

Question: When did the mainstream parties last hold internal elections?

Answer: These are anathema. They are at best avoided and, if held, at the very last minute in order to beat or meet a legal requirement and must be manipulated by the party owner.

Question: How serious are the parties about promoting representation of minorities in Parliament?

Answer: Presence speaks loudest. Count them.

Q: Will parties account for these monies?

A: Yes, creatively.

Q: Should we fund private parties?

A: Yes, to enable the parties to party.

Opanga is a media consultant; [email protected]