Kenyans are no strangers to politicians shifting to and from one political party to another in the pre-election period. In the previous the elections it has been difficult to keep track of defections of to and from various political parties, and the mergers and disbandment, the alignment and realignment, constitution and reconstitution of political parties.
It is little wonder that in the new dispensation legislative provisions have been made in both the Election Act and the Political Parties Act to place time limits on party hopping as well as the creation of the political party coalitions and mergers. However it appears these legislative provisions are not as iron clad as one would have thought.
Take for instance the Election Act, initially the Act provided that MPs were to declare their party choice 6 months before the election i.e. in October. However members of parliament passed an Elections (Amendment) Bill that has now prolonged the period, in which members of parliament and other aspirants can change political parties, by three months, extending the deadline for changing parties from October 2012, to January 2013.
Currently, section of 10 the Political Parties Act provides for the formation of coalitions between two or more parties before or after an election. If the coalition is entered in to before the election the Political Parties Act requires that a coalition agreement be deposited with the Registrar of Political Parties at least three month before the election. So if the next election is scheduled for the March 4th 2013, this means that that political party’s have just over 2 weeks to submit their coalition agreements to the Registrar to beat the December 4 deadline.
In the lead up to the deadline for the registration of political party alliances, we have already began to see the formation and reformation of yet to be formalised coalitions, and negotiations and renegotiations of deals between political parties. Members of the public are not party to these deals however one wonders in whose interests politicians are acting when they form coalitions, they’re own or the interests of the public.
More recently there have been news reports on calls by Presidential aspirants, Eldoret North MP, William Ruto and Deputy Prime Minister, Uhuru Kenyatta, to amend the Political Parties Act to extend the period for registration for the formation of political alliances. All that would be needed to do this is a simple majority vote in parliament, and though parliament is in recess it’s not impossible to conceive that the extension just may happen.
In Kenya’s case political party coalitions are not so much sanctioned by public i.e. the public doesn’t vote on who or how, or which coalitions should be formed, coalitions are also not the product of a joinder in shared values, or polices rather the political coalitions are based on previous voting patterns and ethnicity. However the ultimate choice on which coalition/non-coalition to vote remains the voter.