AMREF Health Africa, youths in politics demand implementation of election finance act

Charles Olwamba, a program officer with Amref Health Africa during the meeting

By MN Reporter

Government has been urged to enforce laws governing election financing to give youths a level playing field in politics.

Amref Health Africa through a youth power project gave a platform to youthful candidates in the August 9 polls to pick on challenges affecting them in the campaign trail.

In a meeting in Migori town, the group said despite the Election Campaign Financing Act being passed by the 2013 general elections, its implementation has been pushed through past August 9 polls.

“The law was key in capping and regulating amount of money to be used in each seat and for politicians and parties to reveal their sources of funds this will make it affordable for youths and vulnerable people to vie in elections,” Charles Olwamba, a program officer with Amref Health Africa who convened the meeting in Migori town said.

In 2010, Kenyans passed the constitution whose article 88 gave Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) mandate to regulate amount of money candidates and their agents can use in elections cycles.

Olwamba said despite the implementation of the act being pushed to next polls, “there is fear that even then it will never be implemented again and never will.”

He said in the just concluded party primaries, many youths were picked as candidates in the next polls but there is still fear of apathy at the ballot which was seen as most youths refused to register as voters.

“We have a notion that politics is expensive, but with this law it will level the playfield,” Olwamba sai.

The group said the enforcement of the law has been pushed again in this polls, to next polls that will be 14 years since it was established and the saddest thing is that in the next polls it may not be effected.

They said the law will bring objectivity in politics way above money and will encourage more youths, or leaders without money to face off with incumbents.

“The notion that elections are expensive have pushed away many potential leaders from seeking elective posts, especially youths,” he said.

He said Kenya should borrow a leaf from Brazil who law on financial regulations “has very strict and hefty penalties which included culprits being locked out from two election cycles.”

South Kanyamkago MCA Graham Kagali said apart from being candidates in polls, youths should take part in politics either as community mobilisers, policy formulators and take part in campaign mobilization.

“Not all youths can be in politics as candidates, but in the past youths have helped in pushing through policies in assemblies especially mobilising community to push through government agenda,” Kagali said.