ODM's new twist in sharing of political parties fund

ODM leader Raila Odinga

ODM party leader Raila Odinga.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • ODM, led by politician Raila Odinga, says the only way they can share their funds is if what they receive is based on the August 8, 2017 General Election presidential votes, a position Ms Nderitu has argued will be unconstitutional.

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has now staked the sharing of the Political Parties Fund it receives to a case it wants its partners in the moribund National Super Alliance (Nasa) to lodge against Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu.

This, even as it emerged that ODM wrote to Ms Nderitu asking her to convene a meeting following Wiper Democratic Movement leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s request.

“Our position is that Nasa was not a clandestine organisation but an above-the-board alliance of registered political parties governed by instruments deposited with your office, the contents of which are self-explanatory.  We, therefore, wish to request your esteemed office to convene, at your earliest possible convenience, a meeting of Nasa constituent parties as per Musyoka’s request,” ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna told Ms Nderitu in a letter.

An earlier meeting, the ODM official said, failed to take place as Mr Musyoka cancelled at the last minute.

ODM, led by politician Raila Odinga, says the only way they can share their funds is if what they receive is based on the August 8, 2017 General Election presidential votes, a position Ms Nderitu has argued will be unconstitutional.

“The August 8, 2017 presidential election results were declared null and void and cannot therefore be used for any legal purposes, including forming the basis to compute and distribute the Political Parties Fund, as such shall amount to an illegality,” Ms Nderitu said in an October 15, 2019 letter, which has since been made public by ODM in its continued fight with Nasa partners over the sharing of the funds.

Kalonzo Musyoka

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka during the interview with the ‘Nation’ on June 16, 2021 at his private offices in Nairobi. Mr Musyoka ruled out backing ODM leader Raila Odinga in next year’s polls.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group 

ODM says Mr Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC), and Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford-Kenya had refused to join them to challenge the finding of Ms Nderitu, which the orange party says has denied it its rightful share — some of which would have gone to the Nasa affiliates.

Mr Musyoka met Mr Odinga last week, an escalation of the Nasa affiliates’ demand for a share of ODM funds.

“The registrar has been on record saying she uses the results of the repeat presidential elections, resulting in skewed allocation where you see Jubilee receiving as much as three times what comes to ODM,” Mr Sifuna said.

“We believe the registrar is wrong to apply results of an election other than a General Election and [have asked our partners to] help us go to the Supreme Court to make a finding on that. They have not.”

Other elective posts

In the annulled August 2017 poll, Mr Odinga got 6,822,812 (44 percent) against President Kenyatta’s 8,223,369 votes (54 percent).

In the repeat election in October the same year, President Kenyatta got 7,483,895 votes, or 98.26 percent, while Mr Odinga was registered as having garnered 73,228 (0.96 percent).

Ms Nderitu’s position means ODM does not get funding based on the August 8 presidential votes, with their impressive 6.8 million votes in the annulled poll, which would have assured them of millions in their accounts.

But the Nasa parties argue that ODM was being economical with the truth and failed to consider the part of the Nasa agreement that required sharing based on the other seats, even without the presidential vote share.

"When a coalition partner fails to meet the funding threshold under the Political Parties Fund, the sharing formula will take into account the party's contribution to the coalition strength in Parliament and to the qualifying party's share of the fund," states the coalition's 2017 agreement 1 (e) on the sharing of funds.

But Mr Sifuna insists this section, while true, was only based on the precursor that there had to be joint nominations in the different seats, with a single coalition candidate, a proposal opposed by the affiliate parties who went against each other in the different seats, only choosing to back one candidate for the presidency.

In a past interview on the matter, Mr Sifuna told Nation: “Our former partners cannot be entitled to monies due to ODM on account of the votes received by the party’s other candidates, governors, MPs and MCAs, for the simple reason that they did not campaign for those candidates and in fact fielded opponents against them”

What the law says

In the current law, parties are required to have at least three percent of the total votes in a preceding General Election to qualify, a tall order only met by Jubilee and ODM.

The law also requires parties to have at least three elected governors, 20 members of the National Assembly, three of the 47 senators, and at least 40 members of county assembly.

This caveat means that otherwise big national parties like Wiper, ANC, Kanu of Baringo senator Gideon Moi, Ford Kenya and Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua’s Maendeleo Chap Chap — which are players in the national politics — do not qualify for state funding.

“How do you explain a formula that only benefits two parties? The funding should ensure we build a strong multi-party democracy, based on the number of votes each party gets, a token to hard work next time, while having funds to run and manage the party,” said Ms Jane Njiru, the vice chair of the PPLC women caucus, representing Ford-Asili.

PPLC has now demanded a review of the formula for sharing funds that will see 75 percent of the monies shared among all parties according to votes garnered in the last election, with 15 percent shared equally among registered parties that participated in the poll.

The caveat is that such parties should have at least one elected member at county or national level, the PPLC group has proposed in far-reaching recommendations.

Ten percent, they said, should be shared equally between the Registrar of Political Parties as well as the PPLC to manage the funds.

Nasa principals Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetang'ula, Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka during a rally at Masinde Muliro Gardens in Mathare on March 24, 2017. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Fringe parties

The push by the non-qualifying parties, which had been quashed before, means at least 69 parties that have at least one elected leader in Kenya might soon get the funding.

Though small, fringe parties, they cannot be ignored, they said.

The 69 political parties outside the Big Five occupy 88 of the 290 elected MPs seats, and 529 of the 1,450 elected members of the county assemblies (MCAs), PPLC said.

And with the requirement that each party has at least 24,000 unique members in the country — most taking the minimum as 30,000 — before registration, it means the 69 parties then have a membership base of more than 2.1 million, at least.

Treasury is required to provide at least 0.3 per cent of the revenue collected by the national government, as audited and approved by the National Assembly, be allocated to the Political Parties Fund.

Among the qualifying parties, the fund is divided 80 percent proportionately based on the total number of votes in the last election and 15 percent based on the number of candidates of the party from special interest groups.

Five percent goes to the Registrar of Political Parties to administer the fund.

In the 2019/20 financial year, for example, Jubilee got Sh564.2 million and ODM Sh363.5 million of the Sh871.2 million allocated for the year.

In the current financial year ending this month, Sh795.2million was allocated to the fund, with Jubilee bagging Sh515 million and ODM Sh240.5 million.