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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Secret Directive: Don't Register New Political Parties, Registrar Told


A Kenyan who has made a late decision to enter into politics and to participate in this year’s polls has found it impossible to register their political party. Using this information, I contacted a law firm in Kenya that I know well and told them that I wished to register a political party. Sure enough, a few telephone calls later word came back that the good people at the registrar of societies have been "instructed" NOT to register any more political parties.

There are currently 250 registered political parties in Kenya.

I find this government decision rather interesting. Will somebody explain to me what advantage or disadvantage it will give the Kibaki administration if there are 250 or 250,000 registered political parties. If anything this decision is denying government much-needed funds in registration fees.

Besides this administration itself has not set a very good example (if registering too many political parties is a crime) because old parties like DP are still operating and claiming that the President will use them to seek re-election. At the same time Narc-Kenya has been registered and then there is yet another Narc being registered by Noah Wekesa after Charity Ngilu refused to play ball with the original Narc. I suppose that Wekesa will have no problem registering his Narc Original and yet an ordinary Kenyan seeking to register a political party will be taken round in circles being constantly told "check later," until the elections are here. For the uninformed...

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Taabu said...

It all amounts to generating political heat with no commensurate light. You cannot fault enterprising Kenyans to make hay when the sun is still shining. They smell the opportunities miles away. All the 250+ parties are rubbing their hands with glee waiting for tribal chiefs who will play no second fiddle to nobody lest they lose their chieftancy. It is auction time for the briefcase parties. May the highest bidder bad it all.

On print, a decision to stop registering more parties is a brilliant idea. But given the tendency to cloth objectivity with expendiency you cannot take that decree to the bank. In the meantime the curtain raising session is here already the main act in the next 130 days will be a thriller like no other befote it. Get your advance tickets and indulge fellow countrypeople.

derek said...

Okay, 250 political parties and still counting. That can easily translate to one party per constituency or MP, and a surplus to provide one to the Sergeant at Arms, the Security and even other orderlies within parliament.

Of those, tens are inactive; others are waiting for the next big defector from the leading parties to join them, while the rest make the numbers. With no political party support in the country I wonder how they have been running and for any reason, they should provide annual returns to the Registrar. The Registrar in this case has a reason to deregister some of those that have not been filing their returns and make the figure lean.

For years to come Kanu will remain the most organised of them all, and despite my misgivings for the independence party, they have shown the right spirit of spreading their tentacles to all divisions in the country. I really wonder how many of the parties have regional or district branches to counter Kanu’s pervasive spread. True, Kanu is the only party that can call a meeting at short notice and get all delegates within the specified time. DP can, though they are localised within certain regions of the country, while ODM (whether it is a party or not) has its own problems outside the headquarters can, though newspapers reports suggest that fights over control have been seen in certain regions. Theoretically, they are only three major parties in the country.

Just wondering where SDP, Ford-Asili, Mukaru Nganga’s party, Wangari Maathai’s party, George Anyona’s party, NDP, and the many names we have read before went to. They are nowhere to be seen or heard.

If the government is scared of any new party, they should only be wary of the new formation that might take place in the coming week if the ODM presidential aspirants feel that they will have to form a party of their own. If they make their threat real, of which I feel that they should not, it will be a defeatist way, then a new party is in the offing, to make it 251. Already they have issued threats and given that they came from politicians capable of ‘bringing Nairobi to a standstill’ then it is a serious one.

Denying a party registration in its own imagination is a poor tactic and one that potentially kills democracy. The repeal of section 2A obviously allowed for the formation of more parties in the country and there was no limit to that. Simple, the government should allow whoever wants to form a party, register one or even village parties.

Forming a party at this moment, I believe we should be seeing one soon, if ODM insist that Dan Maanzo has not right to be chairman, it will trigger another sub-Ford disintegration that happened in 1992 when a similar problem in ODM came up between Kenneth Matiba and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. The FORD was split into so many parties that it eventually ended up having a day/bus stop name (Saba Saba) after Muthithi failed and others could not fit.

On democratic lines, it will be another blunder by the government not to allow any Tom. Dick and Harry start/form his party.

derek said...

Chris, another point about raising exchequer funds through registration fees. I tell you... they do not care about that. If they can raise 93% of the annual budget from taxes, it shows you that there are things they do not care about any more. Index and Proctor reported recently that Kenya might be one of the few contries in the developing world that raises three-quarters of their annual expenditure internally.

Proud Kikuyu Woman said...

Gava is also dealing itself a strategic blow by denying these wananchi wa kawaida aspirants their democratic rights. If I were govt, I would allow as many parties to be registered as possible.Even if its one member per party. This means your 'enemies' are highly fragmented and just as easy to 'beat'-think ODM, with KANU (now pulling away), LDP,LPK,FORD-AtoZ, them...where no one seems to agree if ODM is a party or an umbrella 'body'.......and one presidential candidate each.

Moi once won (yes, you read it right, I believe Em Oh One won democratically) with only a 36% margin because there were so many parties with candidates running against him. Not to compare Ubako with Dan Toro, just a piece of unsolicited advice.

Phil said...

Hey Chris,

Just one very important point you are over looking. You mention 'ODM-K Raila Odinga faction'. Nothing of this sort exists. ODM-K was founded by several parties.

ODM-K has yet to nominate its flag bearer. There is an attempt to nominate its candidate via consensus and if that fails then delegates. Parliament is yet to be dissolved. There is a lot of external interference in ODM-K affairs. The party is experiencing internal upheavals, but it still retains its identity.

Anonymous said...


I think what is required is regulating political parties once registered and not stopping the registration. I remember Kiraitu Murungi was once subjected to alot of heat when he gave an ultimatum to political parties to update their records (file returns) or face deregistration. This was a sure way to get rid of briefcase political parties. Most of them have not held elections since they were registered. I haven't read the proposed political parties bill but these are some of the issues that it should address.

Anonymous said...


I was left puzzled after posting the above comment. I posted at 11:26AM Kenyan Time (GMT+3:00). The posting time above is 1:26AM placing your host around time zone GMT-8:00(Pacific time - US & Canada, Tijuana,etc). Did you have to go(hide) this far or am i getting everything downside up?

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