For the second successive election cycle, the Republic of Kenya’s Election Campaign Financing Act, 2013 has not been enforced, casting its future in doubt. There is a sense in which the political class is conspiring to ensure that the progressive Campaign Financing law never sees the light of day.
The National Assembly (Parliament) of Kenya suspended the enforcement of the Act for the 2017 general elections and deferred the Act’s commencement until the Independent Electoral Commission (IEBC) makes and publishes regulations defining expenditure limits by August 2021.
But when the regulations were made and published, the Act was once again rejected by Parliament. One of the grounds used by the Kenyan lawmakers to reject the campaign finance regulations was the finding that the regulations were enacted without the IEBC involving the public.
Yet, the country has witnessed one of the most monetised and commercialised election with the two rival political coalitions engaging in ground spending wars which threaten the integrity of the August 2022 general elections.
Earlier on, three civil society organizations (CSOs), namely Katiba Institute, Africa Centre for Open Governance (Africog) and Transparency International, sued the National Assembly and IEBC arguing that the absence of the campaign financing law, threatens the integrity of the upcoming August 2022 general elections.
The CSOs further sought to break the cycle of impunity by the National Assembly in interfering with IEBC’s regulation of election campaign financing. In the judgment made by court in May 2022, whereas court found that Parliament does not have powers to approve or disapprove the spending limits, it refused to quash the decision of the National Assembly to annul the enforcement of campaign financing regulations developed and published by the IEBC in 2021.
This judgment thus, opened the doors for unregulated splashing of money by-election candidates. Candidates at presidential, parliamentary, and gubernatorial levels have been observed campaigning using helicopters and a fleet of expensive off-road vehicles on campaigns.
There has been too much money flowing in the campaigns for the Kenya general elections 2022, with most of it suspected to be coming from “dirty sources” such as corruption. The lack of a legal framework to regulate campaign financing has undermined the fairness of campaigns.
The IEBC had developed the revoked regulations in an effort to ensure a leveled playing field for all political contestants, as well as tame electoral malpractices such as voter bribery. It had capped presidential campaign spending in the next General Election at Ksh4.4 billion ($38.2 million) while spending limits for governorship, senatorial and woman representative seats had been capped on a county-by-county basis ranging from Ksh21.9 million ($190,434) to Sh117.3 million ($1 million).