Kenyan politicians in hunt for poll campaigns cash

Tuesday July 11 2017

President Uhuru Kenyatta with media personalities Julie Gichuru and Caroline Mutoko at a recent fundraising dinner in Nairobi. PHOTO | NMG


With less than a month to Kenya’s most expensive election, politicians are on a fundraising spree, with many channelling the cash through foundations.

“Channelling the cash to foundations makes it difficult to track campaign budgets,” said Frank Mukwanja, programmes officer at Centre for Multiparty Democracy.

Names of prominent businessmen have also featured in the debate on campaign financing, even though some have avoided media attention despite wielding influence in the two leading political groups — Jubilee Party and National Super Alliance (Nasa).  

Last month President Uhuru Kenyatta raised Ksh500 million ($5 million) at a fundraising dinner, while Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga is betting on an invite-only dinner to collect Ksh1 billion ($10 million).

The funds raised at President Kenyatta’s dinner were channelled to the Mount Kenya Foundation, which has been registered as a non-governmental organisation run by influential businessmen and senior government officials. Mr Odinga in previous elections has worked with the Raila Odinga Centre and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation, which are both based in Nairobi, but has opened new offices where his campaign activities are planned and executed.

The role of leading businessmen in campaign financing has brought to the fore the issue of hidden sources of election financiers with interest in lucrative business deals from the government.


READ: Jubilee, Nasa tussle over source of campaign funds

ALSO READ: Millions of dollars at play as Kenyans go into their most expensive election yet

Billionaires Jimmi Wanjigi, David Langat, Brown Ondego and Peter Munga are among the businessmen whose names have featured in elections campaign financing in the past few months.

According to International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, most political parties in Africa are underfunded, which expose them to manipulation from powerful business community, who expects favours when the party forms the government.

“Large donations are often seen as problematic, since there is a danger that the recipient becomes beholden to the giver, which can jeopardise both democracy and governance,” IDEA, says in its 2014 report.

International Crisis Group also raised concerns in its post 2013 Kenya’s elections report, warning that secrecy around campaign financing was a ticking time bomb.