What you need to know:
- While political parties had 7.6 million registered members in 2013, the number has now shot up to 16.3 million.
- Jubilee claims it has 8.25 million members, ODM 4.5 million while UDA says it has two million.
Jubilee and ODM together account for overwhelming majority of the 16.3 million registered members of political parties, but newly formed United Democratic Alliance (UDA) is fast building its support base.
Parties have more than doubled their registered members in the last eight years, signalling a growth in the recruitment of members that are critical in nominations.
While political parties had 7.6 million registered members in 2013, the number has now shot up to 16.3 million, Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu says.
The 2013-2018 strategic plan by the registrar’s office, political parties had 7,623,747 registered members, 4,184,343 male, and 3,439,404 female.
This was as at March 4, 2013 when Kenya went to the polls.
With elections due next year, the party membership list has grown to 16.3 million, suggesting heightened interest in party affairs by the public and signalling aggressive recruitment as more minors join the voting bracket and ready for nomination.
Ms Nderitu declined to provide the breakdown of the numbers for each party citing political sensitivity. This saw the Nation resorting to contacting respective party officials for their figures.
“These figures are the strength of parties and most of them don’t want their numbers to be shared without their authorisation and in case I give out, it will look like I’m inciting them against each other,” Ms Nderitu said.
President Kenyatta’s ruling Jubilee Party has close to half of the total registered political party members in Kenya, and almost double those of Raila Odinga’s ODM.
Jubilee claims it’s the most popular party with 8.25 million members after losing 250,000.
It’s a modest figure the party acknowledges have quit, but which critics suggest is an understatement of the scale of the loss suffered by the party that is torn apart by factional feuds.
However, the rigorous process to resign from membership of a party, including a written notice stamped by the party and received by the registrar, could partly explain the situation.
Set up offices
“We’re still the largest party in the country. At 8.25 million, we have just lost 250,000 members only and plans are in place to set up offices in more than 25 counties and recruit new members from each ward across the country,” said Jubilee Deputy Secretary-General Joshua Kutuny, who is also Cherang’any MP.
ODM claims it has 4.5 million members. Director of Recruitment Rosemary Kariuki said the Orange Party is on its way to push the numbers even higher.
“Authoritatively, we have 2.4 million ordinary and life members who have been verified by the Registrar of Political Parties, and another over 900,000 we’re currently verifying with the Registrar because they were in other parties but have since joined us. We also have 1.2 million party officials from polling stations across the country,” she says.
UDA, a party linked to Deputy President William Ruto, has in three months raked in half of what ODM has listed in a decade and a quarter of what Jubilee has registered in five years, pointing to how fast it is building its support base. The new outfit, which is banking on disquiet over how Jubilee Party treated leaders allied to the DP, claims it has so far registered two million members.
“We’re registering good numbers and UDA is being received in every part of this country as we solidify our base ahead of next year’s general election,” said UDA Secretary-General Veronica Maina.
Going by these figures from the three parties, it would suggest the other remaining parties share out 1.6 million members.
The Nation asked the office of Registrar of Political Parties to confirm the figures obtained from the parties, but she was yet to respond by the time of going to press.
Section 7 (2a) of the Political Parties Act, 2011, requires registered parties to have a minimum number of party members who should not be less than 1,000 from at least 24 counties.
There are 73 fully registered political parties. Another 25 parties have sought provisional registration and 50 have filed applications to reserve names for this quarter.
The news of political party numbers come at a time big parties have stepped up membership recruitment in preparation for the all-important nominations for the 2022 General Election.
ODM, UDA, Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC), Wiper Democratic Movement of Kalonzo Musyoka, and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi’s Kanu have banked on online recruitment that started at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw the ban on political gatherings.
While UDA has members register through uda.or.ke/uda, ODM introduced www.odmmembership.com, Wiper on https://www.wiperdigital.org/web2/signup, Kanu on join.kanuparty.org while ANC has https://anc.or.ke/become-member/ for recruiting members online.
ODM has also introduced a text registration service on *483*036# almost similar to Kanu’s *483*03#.
Stung by a ban on political gatherings, the parties have devised both online and manual recruitment drives, with many aspirants of different parties banking on this exercise to solidify their bases and strengthen their ambitions in anticipation of the party primaries.
UDA’s Ms Maina said the registrations are an important precursor to the 2022 polls. “Our membership is growing. We want as many members as possible to help us grow our party,” she said.
The rebranded party has also used physical meetings with aspirants all over the country to register new members.
Given the importance of members in nominations, the aspirants have been handed membership books, with leaders competing over who gets more people to enrol to the party.
“This is the kind of difference we want to make, unlike other parties where they just have officials and when they conduct their elections, they don’t go everywhere. For us, we’re looking forward to constituting the offices from the polling stations upwards,” UDA chairman Johnson Muthama said.
Keiyo South’s Daniel Rono said: “Yes, we’ve constituted county offices for the sake of registration of members and other activities aimed at popularising UDA.”
In ODM, membership registration and verification started mid-February for those either seeking to contest party positions or elect representatives, and the Nation has established that the process is ongoing.
“The applicable registration fee is Sh100 for ordinary members. Persons who are already registered are also requested to verify their status," stated the notice which had been signed by the party's National Elections Board chairperson Catherine Mumma.
Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat said the online registrations have to be supplemented by physical membership recruitment drives.
Mr Salat said the party registered 400,000 new members over the Covid-19 period and is looking to go on a full-blown registration drive once the restrictions are lifted.
ANC National chairman Kelvin Lunani said: “Compared to the last election, ANC was a small party and now it’s a big outfit attracting many aspirants in the other five seats. We really want to have numbers on the ground for us to run a proper nomination exercise by coming up with right candidates who will compete with others.”
ANC Deputy Party Leader Ayub Savula, who is also Lugari MP said: “We’re going on with a party recruitment drive. The recruitment will strengthen Mudavadi for presidency. The exercise is being done at polling station level and we shall go up to county then national level.”
Wiper had aimed at registering a million members in 90 days when it launched its membership recruitment drive last year.
Officials of the party told the Nation that while they did not hit their target, the digital drive was an important addition to their party-selling agenda.