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Small parties can’t survive without state funding — MPs

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Lawmakers want the formula for distributing the political parties funds reviewed so small parties are not shortchanged.

The law stipulates that the parties get 0.3 per cent of the total revenue. Thus, they should share Sh2.7 billion of the cash collected last year. The Treasury had, however, allocated only Sh822 million in the budget, prompting fury from ODM, one of the only two parties that qualify for the funds.

The other is Jubilee, which gets the lion’s share because of its superior parliamentary strength.

According to regulations, 80 per cent is given to the parties based on the total number of votes they got in the last election, 15 per cent based on the number of candidates from special interest groups, with five per cent going to the Registrar of Political Parties to administer the fund.

Read: Team pushes for small parties funds

Some MPs say the formula favours big parties and has to be changed. 

“As a country, we want to promote the small parties. It’s important we ensure they too get a share of the funds,” National Assembly Committee on Delegated Legislation chairperson Gladys Shollei (Uasin Gishu) said on Sunday.

The committee met a team from the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties. Makueni MP Dan Maanzo said the formula is unfair and disadvantages small parties, which cannot compete on the same pedestal.

“Most parties can’t continue to be parties under the current laws and can’t be sustained,” he said.

Parties that do not secure at least three per cent of the total number of votes cast in the preceding General Election do not qualify for the funds.

Those that do not meet the two-thirds gender rule and those that do not have representation of special interest groups in their governing councils also fail the test.

Political parties must have at least 20 elected members in the National Assembly, three elected senators, three elected governors and 40 elected MCAs to qualify.

ODM has complained that the distribution of the cash has been skewed and that the National Treasury owes it Sh5 billion in unpaid funds since 2013.

Read: Cash wars threaten to tear NASA apart

More: ODM, Jubilee could share Sh3 billion each year

On Sunday, Shollei and Maanzo said they also want changes made to the law to ensure parties nominate more women to run for elective seats.

“This happens in France and other developed countries, which encourage parties to have more women in their ranks,” Shollei said.

Maanzo said they plan to streamline regulations that guide party mergers before and after polls.

“We want to create laws that protect parties so agreements are not broken when people disagree after signing MoUs,” the legislator said.

He said the current law does not recognise coalitions but only parties.

Shollei said they will come up with amendments to the Political Parties Act to curb party hoping.

“We need a law to know when one can change parties and when one can’t,” the woman rep said.

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