Implementation of Election Campaign Financing Act 2013 was suspended prior to the 2017 general elections with the promise that the Act was to come into force immediately after, that is the upcoming 2022 polls.
Part II of this Act explains the functions and the powers of the IEBC Pursuant to Article 88(4)(i) of the Constitution and section 4(i) of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act. Part III of the Act explains the regulation of expenditure ranging from election campaign financing rules; authorised persons; party expenditure committee; independent candidate expenditure committee; referendum expenditure committee and submission of expenditure reports.
Part IV of the Act on the contributions and donations lays down the sources of campaign finances; limits to contributions; anonymous contributions or contributions from an illegal source; prohibition on contributions; support by an organisation; disclosure of funds; surplus campaign funds; spending limits; authorised expenditures and media coverage. Part V of the Act outlines dispute resolution; offences by a candidate, a political party or a referendum committee and lastly general penalty. While part VI of the Act on Miscellaneous sets forth the registration and dissolution of expenditure committees; records; audit of accounts; claims and objection and provisions on delegated powers.
The Election Campaign Financing (Amendment) Bill, 2020 sponsored by Hon. Kigano, Clement Muturi, Chairperson of Justice and Legal Affairs Committee of the National Assembly, is a Bill that seeks to amend the Elections Campaign Financing Act to remove the bottlenecks that have impeded its implementation since it was enacted in 2013. When the Act was enacted in 2013, the intention was to give full effect to Article 88 (4) (i) which provides that it shall be the responsibility of the IEBC to regulate the amount of money that may be spent by or on behalf of a candidate or party in respect of any election. As earlier mentioned, in 2017 Parliament suspended its operation until immediately after the general election.
The Bill intends to: (a) focus the object of the Act to the constitutional mandate placed on the Commission namely, regulation of the amount of money spent election campaigns; (b) remove the requirements by independent candidates, political parties and referendum committees to form campaign expenditure committees to manage campaign funds on their behalf; (c) mandate the Commission to set donation and spending limits in respect of election campaigns; (d) restrict campaign expenditures except through the relevant party structures and restrict donations from impermissible and unknown sources; (e) restrict contributions and donations to election campaigns and clarifies permissible donors; (f) prohibit donations for election campaigns directly from foreign governments and (g) remove the requirement for the Auditor-General to audit campaign funds and require candidates, political parties and referendum committees to receive, account for and report to the Commission on compliance with the set limits.
Seeing that the country has already ushered in the campaign season, it is imperative that the Campaign Financing Act 2013 is operationalized to level the playing field for next year’s elections. Parliament’s pushback on the regulations gazetted by the IEBC proposing campaign spending limits per elective position, party and region threatens to exclude the marginalized from fielding themselves as potential candidates and allowing corrupt persons to have an unfair advantage by splashing funds acquired through dubious, watering down the integrity of the polls. If the Act is not operationalized this time around, who’s to say that the same won’t happen five years from 2022? Wouldn’t it be an unending cycle that encourages and allows corruption to thrive? What does this mean then for the quality of leadership? Food for thought.