In Summary
  • The denial of registration is on the basis of compliance with the provisions of the Political Parties Act, the Constitution and other enabling laws.
  • Inclusion of special interest groups, including the youth, in the political governing structure is a requirement under the Act.

This week, acting Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu responds to your questions.

1. At the peak of every election cycle, your office witnesses the registration of an unprecedented number of new political parties, giving rise to some being formed based on ethnic or parochial interests. What measures are you putting in place to ensure that registration of political parties is not a casual business in order to preserve our democracy? Mmasi Evans, Nairobi

Currently, there are 68 fully registered political parties of which 43 have representation in the National Assembly, the county assemblies and the Senate.

These numbers demonstrate that there is democratic space in Kenya and evidence that political parties are democratically participating in the electoral process.

Registration of a political party is a tedious process that takes almost one year in the best-case scenario. Thus, it can never be casual business.

The Political Parties Act, 2011 spells out the requirements for both provisional and full registration.

Notably, only two political parties have met the requirements for full registration since the 2017 elections, while over 200 applications have been received.

2. The Political Parties Act sets out clear requirements that ensure good governance and strong political parties. For instance, a political party must have representation in more than half of the counties, including branches to serve them, not more than two thirds of members of its governing body should be from the same gender and they should publish their sources of funds, among others. Can you confirm the number of parties that have fully complied with the law? For the non-compliant, what are you doing to ensure full compliance? Sam Kibunja

It is important to note that compliance is a continuous process and not an event.

That is why we carry out periodic audits and have constant engagement and sensitisation programmes with the party leadership.

Currently, over 70 per cent of registered political parties are compliant. A party may be compliant today but fall short tomorrow, thus the office always follows and monitors compliance on a continuous basis.

In order to achieve full registration, one must have fully complied with all requirements.

However, as an office, we are in cognisance of the shifting statuses of the parties.

Parties effect changes on their own volition and at whichever time, which may affect their compliance statuses; for instance the resignation or election of officials may have an effect on the two-thirds gender requirement.

3. The Office of the Registrar of Political Parties is, among other things, mandated to usher in reforms in the registration and operations of political parties in order to promote democracy, maturity, discipline, transparency and accountability in the political arena. However, this office has appeared to favour the ruling parties which are financially stable at the disadvantage of opposition parties which are sometimes denied registration due to vested interests. What is your take on this matter? Dan Murugu, Nakuru

A party is neither the ruling party nor the opposition during registration.

However, the ORPP ensures fairness and assists all people who wish to form parties equally.

The Political Parties Act clearly stipulates the criteria for the registration of parties from the requirements of a political party, the provisional registration process, the manner of application and the conditions to be met before full registration.

The role of the ORPP is to ensure all these conditions are met before and during registration as it is a process that takes time.

The denial of registration is on the basis of compliance with the provisions of the Political Parties Act, the Constitution and other enabling laws.

4. The Kibra by-election campaign epitomises the disintegration, which our political parties have reached in terms of party discipline and general governance. Politicians from different political parties openly campaigned for candidates of rival parties even when their own were on the ballot paper. Many attribute this level of confusion to lack of proper regulatory mechanisms from your office. How much blame can you take for this and what are you doing to achieve party sanity, which in turn brings about democratic dividends to the nation? Komen Moris, Eldoret

By law and in practice, a political party is a self-regulating institution with powers emanating from its members.

The constitutions of political parties stipulate clearly how the parties should shoulder the responsibility of disciplining their members.

Most importantly, the social contract is between a party and its members and the onus is on the party to institute disciplinary procedures when dissatisfied by the conduct of a member.

Nevertheless, the ORPP as a regulator of political parties seeks to ensure fair administration of justice in the disciplinary procedures by verifying that the process adheres to the Internal Dispute Resolution Mechanism (IDRM) and disciplinary procedure stipulated in the party constitutions.

5. The Constitution has established a foundation for building strong issue-based political parties. However, the crisis in political parties, which are characterised by exclusion, patronage, and ethnicity, threatens to undermine the growth of democracy. What measures have you taken to usher in the much-awaited changes? Raphael Obonyo, Nairobi

The Constitution envisages strong vibrant and institutionalised political parties with clear ideologies.

The ORPP has taken numerous steps towards the realisation of the same. These include ensuring that the political parties are in compliance with the Act.

The Act grants powers to issue warning, suspend registration and even deregister political parties.

In the past one year or so, the ORPP has deregistered two political parties that were found to be in breach of the Act and failed to remedy within the stipulated time.

It should be noted that deregistration of a political party is also a vigorous process with several steps that give the party a lot of chances to remedy the breach.

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