Flak, praise for law that could bar ‘gen­er­ous’ politi­cians from vying

It pro­hibits rais­ing money for funer­als, churches, schools, wed­dings, med­i­cal fees and de­vel­op­ment projects

The Star (Kenya) - - News - SA­MUEL KISIKA @KisikaSam

Politi­cians who dish out money in fundrais­ers from next week risk be­ing barred from run­ning in the gen­eral elec­tion, ac­cord­ing to the Elec­tion Act 2011, which has been en­acted.

Some MPs are un­happy with the “con­tro­ver­sial and un­fair” law ban­ning haram­bees, eight months to the gen­eral elec­tion, on grounds it “im­pedes the spirit of help­ing”.

De­cem­ber 8 marks eight months to next year’s Au­gust 8 polls, and any politi­cian eye­ing an elec­tive seat will be held to ac­count, in­clud­ing dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion from con­test­ing, when found at­tend­ing fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

The ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude rais­ing money in funer­als, churches, schools, wed­dings, med­i­cal fees for the sick and de­vel­op­ment projects.

Nom­i­nated MP John­son Sakaja yes­ter­day crit­i­cised the law, say­ing he will sup­port any leg­is­la­tor pushing for its amend­ment in the House.

“This is an un­fair law be­cause it bars politi­cians who want to help the needy. When a politi­cian helps through haram­bees, it does not mean peo­ple must vote for you or you will au­to­mat­i­cally be elected. This law goes against the spirit of help­ing each other,” he said.

Ford Kenya leader and Cord co-prin­ci­pal Moses We­tang’ula was the first se­nior politi­cian to lose his Bun­goma Se­nate seat in 2013, when Jus­tice Gikonyo nul­li­fied his elec­tion, cit­ing mas­sive ir­reg­u­lari- ties, in­clud­ing claims of dish­ing out money dur­ing haram­bees to vot­ers. We­tang’ula later re­cap­tured the seat with a land­slide in a by-elec­tion af­ter de­feat­ing his ri­val Musikari Kombo.

Na­tional As­sem­bly deputy mi­nor­ity leader Jakoyo Midiwo crit­i­cised Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta and Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto for en­cour­ag­ing haram­bees, in­stead of pro­mot­ing de­vel­op­ment projects to ben­e­fit all Kenyans.

“Most of the money given out through haram­bees is from cor­rup­tion and there should be a to­tal ban to help fight cor­rup­tion,” he said.

Kakamega Sen­a­tor Bonny Khal­wale said the mil­lions of shillings given dur­ing fundrais­ers is looted from tax­pay­ers’ cof­fers. He said MPs’ salaries alone can­not al­low them to dish out mil­lions in haram­bees.

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