Kenya is a multi-party state and had more than 160 registered political parties by the time the country held the 2007 General Election. The number fell to 38 in 2008 when the Political Parties Act (No.10 of 2007) came into effect.
As at the beginning of 2012, Kenya had 47 registered political parties. Treasury now gives financial support to political parties that meet laid down requirements since the passage of the Political Parties Act, 2007. In the 2009~2010 and 2010-2011 financial years, the State allocated political parties Sh20O million ($2.5 million) for each year.
The Political Parties Act (No.11 of 2011) which came into effect on November 1, 2011, repealed the Political Parties Act (No.10 of 2007)
The Act provides for the registration, regulation of political parties; the establishment and management of the Political Parties Fund and other matters related to management of political parties.
Among other things, the Act does not allow one to be a candidate for a party to whom one has not been a member for at least three months. In its Articles 4-8, the Act provides for the basic requirements for parties to qualify for registration and existence.
This is in keeping with Article 91 of the Constitution, which provides that every political party shall have a national character; a democratically elected governing body; promote and uphold national unity and abide by democratic principles of good governance.
Parties must also promote and practice democracy through regular, fair and free elections; respect the right of all persons to participate in the political process, including minorities and marginalised groups; respect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms and gender equality and equity; promote the objects and principles of this Constitution and the rule of law.
Religious, linguistic, racial, ethnic, gender or regional parties or those who engage in hate speech, breach the law, intimidate or use militias shall not be registered.
Article 9 and the Second Schedule of the Political Parties Act provides the contents of the Constitution or rules of a political party.
Political parties must provide details about their financial structure and systems such as the roles and responsibilities of its officials and organs, annual statutory and audits of accounts, purposes for use of funds especially information that funds have not been distributed or shared among members.
The Act established the Political Parties Fund administered by the Registrar. The main source of money to the Fund is not less than 0.3 per cent of the total revenue collected by the national government, plus donations and contributions from any other lawful sources, such as:
- 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 organisation; and
- The proceeds of any investment, project or undertaking in which the political party has an interest.
A foreign agency, or a foreign political party which shares an ideology with a political party registered in Kenya, may provide technical assistance (but this shall not include provision of any assets). A political party must fully disclose particulars of such sources to the Registrar.
It is an offence for a political party to receive funding from a non-citizen.
It is also an offence for a person to, in a year, contribute to a political party an amount, whether in cash or in kind, exceeding five per cent of the total expenditure of the political party.
The Act compels political parties to have internal dispute resolution mechanisms; democratic practices that cover affirmative action, minorities and marginalised groups; human rights and the manner of implementing national values as provided for in the Constitution.