Jubilee: Political parties regulation ripe for reforms hinged on honesty

Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu

Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation  Media Group

More than a decade ago, I was involved in the drafting of what became the Political Parties Act.

I was in a team that believed that law would help us to fix the political party landscape, bring order to the way parties operate and give meaning to the constitutional provisions.

Watching the events around the Jubilee Party leadership, it has dawned on me that the work may not have delivered on its intended consequences.

While the Act has been amended many times, the fundamentals of the problem remain.

First, politicians still operate parties as private member clubs oblivious of the fact that there are laws that govern their operations.

The penchant for violence, unruliness and disobedience that should have been stumped out by the legal regime has been in full display the past one month.

As we reflect on the events and try to diagnose the root cause of the failure of the law, blame must be apportioned to the country’s’ leadership and the political elite since 2008.

They have preferred the regulatory regime to be a tool to be manipulated to gain political advantage over opponents when it suits them, to be sidestepped when convenient and to be relied upon when one is either cornered or can benefit from its provisions.

The adage that a society is to be governed by the rule of law if it is to prosper seems to be both elusive and academic to politicians.

However, as the Jubilee Party events show, manipulating the law only brings temporary reprieve.

It is, therefore, important to appreciate that a poorly designed and implemented regulatory framework is detrimental to democratic progress.

The requirement that an elected leader bear allegiance to their sponsoring political party or be deemed to have resigned when in breach has failed. It weakens the institution of political parties.

Sadly, whenever leaders are in power, they are happy to have this provision disregarded.

When out of power, they remember the benefits of fidelity to the rule without acknowledging that they have been beneficiaries of disobedience.

Those in power, too, forget the consequence of past disregard of rules to their detriment.

To bring stop this vicious cycle, it is imperative to revisit the Political Parties Act.

In doing so, we must seek to strengthen the institution, democratise its decision-making, enable it to enforce its decisions, hold elected leaders accountable to their parties, strengthen the Registrar of Political Parties and reform the dispute resolution architecture.

Doing this requires honesty.

PAYE Tax Calculator

Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.