Azimio parties accuse state of plot to cripple them amid funding row

jubilee odm secretary generals sifuna kioni

Senior party officials of outfits under Azimio when they addressed the media in Lavington, Nairobi, on January 13, 2022. 

Photo credit: Sidney Chazima | Nation Media Group

Opposition parties have accused the President William Ruto-led administration of standing in the way of them receiving funding guaranteed to them by the Constitution, saying their activities have been crippled due to lack of cash from Treasury.

The parties under the Raila Odinga-led Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition say the move is hypocritical given that Dr Ruto has consistently said that he wants a robust opposition to challenge his government. 

In a joint press conference on Friday, secretaries-general of 11 parties under Azimio demanded the immediate release of cash as ordered by a court. Parties represented included the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Jubilee, Democratic Action Party of Kenya (DAP-K), the United Democratic Forum Party (UDP), Narc-Kenya, Party of Growth and Prosperity (PGP), the United Party of Independent Alliance (Upia) and the Labour Party of Kenya (LPK).

ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna took offence with a comment by President Ruto during last week's joint media interview where he indicated that parties’ funds had been disbursed.

“During his recent interview, he alluded to the fact that money due to political parties had already been released. We as secretaries-general of the qualifying parties have had a meeting with the Registrar of Political Parties and she confirmed that in fact, Treasury has still not disbursed the money,” said Mr Sifuna. 

“So, when the President says that he expects a very robust opposition, he is lying to Kenyans because his actions are directed towards ensuring that they cripple political parties especially the opposition political parties.”

The opposition parties also wondered why the Treasury did not abide by the 0.3 percent set by Parliament. As per the Political Parties Act, 0.3 percent of the money collected by Treasury in a financial year should go towards party funding. But the cash that was fronted by the Treasury for the year ended July 2022, they argue, was Sh1.47 billion instead of Sh6.09 billion. 

“The delay and underfunding to political parties has greatly affected party institutionalization and lowered the desired value-infusion, which in turn would ensure that the people of Kenya see political parties as necessary organisations in the democratisation process,” they said in their joint statement. 

Mr Sifuna said that the last time political parties received funding from the state was in June last year.

“ODM, you know, has 47 county offices. We have rent arrears from June last year,” he said. 

He added: “Our county chairmen are calling us every day. They think we are lying because the President told them on national media that money was released to the Registrar of Political Parties.”

In November, Dr Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) stopped the distribution of the Sh1.47 billion after filing a case with a tribunal, challenging the formula that the Registrar of Political Parties was using to distribute the funds.