Is this Kenya’s most expensive elections?

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International experts, lavish campaign kitties and investment in modern technology are the key factors driving campaigns of Kenya’s main political groupings— Jubilee Party and National Super Alliance — in the run-up to August polls.
Both Jubilee and Nasa have crafted classy campaign strategies, in which implementation analysts said, will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to implement from May 29, when official campaign period kicks off.
According to Johnson Sakaja, a statistical and former chairman of The National Alliance, the party that catapulted President Uhuru Kenyatta to power in 2013, a successful presidential campaign requires about Ksh5 billion ($500 million).
“To run a successful presidential campaign across the country you must have around Ksh5 billion ($500 million) and sometimes this figure can go up. Media and publicity take the lion’s share of the budget,” MrSakaja, who is flying Jubilee Party’s flag in Nairobi senatorial race said.
Other major budget items are campaign merchandise, advertising, communications, transport, research, human resource, events organising and operations.
In addition, leading politicians have also bought helicopters and four wheel vehicles to ease their movements across the country during the campaign period.Hiring a helicopter costs averagely $2,500 per hour inclusive of fuel and pilot’s remuneration.
For instance, a campaign budget for a gubernatorial aspirant for the just concluded party primaries, for a county in rural Kenya, was estimated at Ksh300 million ($3 million) and the figure will double when official campaign period begins this week. This means that to become a governor, a candidate should have at least Ksh600 million ($6 million) to mount a successful campaign.
To become a Member of Parliament, three aspirants who participated in the just concluded party primaries said, one needs at least Ksh15 million ($14,000) to mount a successfulcampaign, however, the figure could change depending on size and population, among other dynamics. The emergence ofindependent candidates is also said to have pushed up the cost of campaigns, because a candidate who has won party primaries will end up facing the same opponents in August polls.
The leading two political grouping have resource mobilsation team, mainly comprising leading business moguls to help presidential candidates raise the much-needed hundreds of millions of dollars for campaigns.
Nasa has put together a resource mobilisation team led by businessman Jimmy Wanjigi who midwifed Jubilee Coalition but later fell out with President Kenyatta’s allies while President Kenyatta is being backed by billionaires from his Mount Kenya backyard under the aegis of Mount Kenya Foundation in addition to his family’s vast business empire.
Mr Wanjigi avoided public limelight during former regime but attended the unveiling of Nasa presidential candidate at Uhuru Park in Nairobi last month, leading to propaganda war from Jubilee supporters, who printed a banner and placed along major highways in Nairobi last Thursday to castigate his political leaning.
Sources of funding and budgets are closely guarded secrets, however, recent admission by a US-based lobby Vanguard Africa, that it is working with opposition raised speculation that MrOdinga could have received financial and technical support.
In March, Vanguard Africa invited MrOdinga’s to the US during which round table talks were arranged with leaders of think tanks focusing on Africa in Washington.
Political parties maintain that their campaign cash are mainly from party activities like membership fees, monthly contribution by elected leaders, fund-raising and donations from well-wishers and supporters.
For instance, in 2007, retired president MwaiKibaki fundraised for his re-election at a Ksh1 million ($10,000) per plate dinner.
Political parties also receive funding from exchequer to run their programmes depending on their performance in elections.
According to the Political Parties Act, a party must have at least three per cent of the total votes cast in a general election to qualify for funding by the exchequer. According to the 2014/2015 financial year, The National Alliance received $866,679, Orange Democratic Movement $848,239 and United Republican Party received $273,688 on the basis of their strengths in parliament.
Fund raising, MrSakaja says, is critical in politics due to high stakes and costly expenditure during the campaign.
“People raise funds from friends and people close to them both locally and abroad,” said MrSakaja.
Sources close to the leading political parties saya lacuna in law will see campaign funds hit a record high given the high stakes, investment in international experts and modern technology to spearhead campaigns and monitor voting and transmission of results at the polling stations.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had capped the budget for presidential campaign but parliament and Nasa presidential candidate RailaOdinga opposed the regulations, saying they were not backed by law.
Amendments to Elections Act in December last year, sealed the fate of IEBC in regulating campaign cash after Members of Parliament ganged up to repeal Elections Campaign Financing Act.
“There is no way IEBC will monitor campaigns funds this year, maybe in 2022 if the law is changed,” said Andrew Limo, IEBC Communications Manager.
According toearlier regulations, political parties could receive up to Ksh15.03 billion ($148.2 million) in contributions with a single source limited to Ksh3 billion ($29.5 million). Presidential candidates were limited to spending Ksh5.25 billion ($51.8 million) while those contesting for the governor/senator/women representative seats will be allowed to spend up to Ksh433 million ($4.3 million).
Parliamentary Committees on Delegated Legislation and that of Legal Affairs and Administration of Justice had raised the red flag, saying regulations were not backed by any law, setting the stage for amendments of Elections Act that rendered them null and void.
To craft strategies, sources revealed, parties have already acquired services of reputable international information and communication technology and campaign experts to work with their local counterparts to craft and monitor implementation of campaign strategy.
While Nasa on Wednesday, appointed Nairobi-based lawyer Willis Otieno to head its campaign secretariat, a team of experts are working at separate locations in Nairobi to deliver on various assignments, among system analysis.
KibisuKabatesi, spokesman of MusaliaMudavadi, one of Nasa principals said the opposition has a team of both international and local experts working on a campaign strategy, which will be handed to principals at the end of the week to pave the way for gradual implementation.
“A team of local and international experts are working on our strategy, which we hope will be ready by the end of this week,” said Mr Kabatesi.
“We are going to match Jubilee’s tonnes of campaign cash because we have majority of Kenyans behind us,” he added.
President Kenyatta on the other hand, is relying on services of a British consultancy firm on electionsSCL Elections once again to work with Jubilee Party secretariat headed by Raphael Tuju to deliver victory.
According to information available on its website, SCL focuses on several areas — research, analysis of data, campaign strategy, communications, party organisation,budgeting and fundraising.
In last Kenya’s general election, SCL Elections handled President Kenyatta’s communications, branding and policy formulation.
“We’ve worked with brands, political organisations and advocacy groups all over the world, and our methodology has been approved by the US State Department, Sandia National Laboratories and NATO,” SCLsays in its website.
The government has been jittery on foreign funding of political activities including civic education, freezing accounts of foundations run by key opposition leaders¬— KalonzoMusyoka and Nairobi Governor Dr Evans Kidero¬— over what it said lack of accountability for millions of dollars they received.
Opposition has since claimed that freezing of KalonzoMusyoka and Kidero Foundations were meant to clip the wings of opposition by starving them of the much-needed campaign funds.
President Uhuru Kenyatta set the ball rolling for the crackdown in December last year, when he accused foreign forces of funding local civil society and politicians to influence the outcome of elections.
Jubilee on the other hand has already hired two reputable international firms offer advisory services for campaigns and public relations.

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