Governance of political parties

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  3. Governance of Political Parties

Political parties require financial resources to sustain and operate a basic party structure. Section 23 of the Act establishes the Political Parties Fund (PPF).  The PPF administered by the Registrar with the reason to ensure that funds are used prudently. The sources of funds for a political party are:

  • The Political Parties Fund (PPF);
  • Membership fees;
  • Voluntary contributions from a lawful source;
  • Donations, bequests and grants from any other lawful source, not being from a non-citizen, foreign government, inter-governmental or non-governmental organization; and
  • The proceeds of any investment, project or undertaking in which the political party has an interest.

A party must have an organizational structure at national and county level with all relevant and elected party bodies and organs. The governing body must reflect regional and ethnic diversity and representation of minorities and marginalized groups. Not more than two-third of the members of the governing body are of the same gender. The party must demonstrate that members of the governing body meet the requirements of Chapter Six of the Constitution and the laws relating to ethics.

It is therefore a requirement that every political party in Kenya must have a:

  • National character.
  • Have democratically elected governing body.
  • Promote and uphold national unity.
  • Abide by the democratic principles of good governance, promote and practice democracy through regular, fair and free elections within the party.
  • Respect the rights of all persons to participate in the political process, including minorities and marginalized groups.
  • Respect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms.
  • Respect and promote gender equality and equity.

The party must have a clear management structure including roles and responsibilities and the procedures to be followed. To address potential conflicts in the party, it must have permanent dispute and conflict resolution mechanism.

Among the documents required for a political party are:

  • Party constitution.
  • Nomination rules and procedures.
  • Internal party election rules and procedures.
  • Party policy document(s).
  • Party policy reporting document.

Political party documents are fundamental for party institutionalizing, inclusive participation, education of party members and the public at large, accountability and transparency and responsible representation.

The Office of the Registrar of Political Parties may request copies of documents to be furnished upon request. Any person who interferes, damages or destroys any record or fails to furnish any document required commits an offence. A member of a political party may, during working hours and on payment of the prescribed fee, inspect and obtain copies of the records maintained at its head office or county office.

Therefore all political parties must have accurate and authentic records including:

  • Party nomination rules and internal election rules
  • Party manifesto and other policy documents including policy
  • Party strategic plan
  • Names and contact details of party officials and party elected representatives to public offices
  • a register of its members
  • a copy of the constitution of the political party;
  • a copy of the policies and plans of the political party;
  • particulars of any contribution, donation or pledge of a contribution or donation, whether in cash or in kind, made by the founding members of the political party;
  • estimates of the expenditure of the political party in accordance with the laws relating to public finance management;
  • asset register
  • the latest audited books of accounts of the political party
  • such other relevant particulars as the Registrar may prescribe.

A political party is required to maintain functional county offices in not less than 24 counties. Party county offices are there to provide the services of the party to its members and the public at large.

Some of the services provided at the county level by parties include;

  • Party outreach activities and party popularization.
  • Membership recruitment and membership list updating.
  • Maintenance of records of all-party officials and all party elected representatives.
  • Offer a caucus platform for its elected members and its officials
  • Act as a link for the party members at grassroot level with its headquarters
  • Prepare regular reports to the party head office.

Regulation 27 of the Elections (Party Primaries and Party lists) and the Second Schedule of the PPA 2011 requires that;Political Parties should have internal dispute resolution mechanisms (IDRM) that;

  1. IDRMs must be independent of the party leadership and other party institutions.
  2. the procedure for dispute resolution must be in writing
  3. decisions of the dispute resolution must be in writing
  4. rules of natural justice must apply,
  5. the panel composition must be of odd number and decision is by simple majority.
  6. the IDRM must hear and determine all nomination disputes expeditiously and in any case no later than 90 days to the date of the General Elections.


Political Parties Dispute Tribunal

The Political Parties Act,2011 establishes the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal (PPDT).

The Tribunal has the jurisdiction to determine the following disputes;

  • Disputes between the members of a political party.
  • Disputes between political parties,
  • Disputas entre un candidato independiente y un partido político;
  • Disputes between Coalition partners.

The Tribunal also has the Jurisdiction to determine appeals from decisions of the Registrar of Political Parties.

To ensure that their internal party structures are strengthened, parties are expected to have robust internal party dispute resolution mechanism. The tribunal shall not entertain matters that have not first been resolved/heard by the party’s Internal DRM.

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