The Registrar of Political Parties has thwarted a push by Musalia Mudavadi’s close allies to amend the Amani National Congress (ANC) constitution in their attempt to seize full control of the party.
The party had on August 6, published a notice in the local dailies notifying its members on the proposed change to its constitution, rules and regulations.
The contentious constitution under which Musalia Mudavadi has been sworn in as a party leader for a five-year term has created a new organ called Amani Council.
Under the new arrangement, the council, whose membership has also taken oath of office, has been designated as the second most powerful organ after the National Delegates Council (NDC).
In addition to the new changes, Mudavadi allies have selected the party leader as the automatic chair of the (NDC) and also the chair of the Amani Council (AC).
However, in what seems to be a blow to Mudavadi’s camp, Ms Ann Nderitu, the political parties boss, warns that the changes will take effect only if they comply with the provisions of the original ANC constitution and the Political Parties Act.
This is after the Registrar published in the Kenya Gazette on August 14, informing the public of the intended changes and asked the membership, and any other member of the public, to deposit them in her office within seven days of the notice.
“The proposed changes shall only take effect upon conclusive satisfaction of the processes envisaged under the ANC party constitution and Section 20 of the Political Parties Act,” Ms Nderitu says in the letter to the party dated August 19, 2020.
Section 20 of the Political Parties Act provides that where a fully registered political party intends to change or amend its constitution, rules and regulations, the title, name or address of any party official or even its name, symbol, slogan or colour it shall notify the Registrar of its intention who shall within 14 days after the receipt of the notification, publish the notice of the intended change or alteration in the Kenya Gazette.
It also requires the party giving notification to publish such notification in at least two daily newspapers having nationwide circulation.
After the expiry of 14 days from the date of publication of the notice in the media, the political party may, after taking into account any representations received from the public, effect the change or alteration in accordance with its constitution and rules.
In an objection to the registrar, Ms Angela Gathoni, a National Executive Committee (NEC) member, said the changes should not be effected as the process of its gazettement was contrary to the law.
Citing Section 202 (2) of the act, Ms Gathoni says the publication of the notice flouted the Political parties Act because it was published in only one newspaper of nationwide circulation instead of two as required by the Act.
She further argues that the notice was undertaken in a manner that was clearly intended to conceal the information and prevent it from being seen and read by interested members of the public due to the small size of the notice, the page in which the notice was published and also the fact that the notice did not bear the party’s logo.
Further, she maintained that while the advert in the newspaper mentioned Section 20 (1) (d) of the Political Parties Act which talks about the alteration of the party’s name, symbol, slogan or and colour.
“The alteration of any of these features does not appear to have been discussed in the minutes of the impugned NEC and NGC meetings of June 11 and June 26, 2020, respectively,” she said.
Further, the officials also accuse the party of publishing the newspaper notice despite earlier raised grievances about the composition of the party’s National Executive Council and National Governing Council.
“The notice published in the newspaper made reference to section 20(1) (d) pf the Political Parties Act which allows for alteration of the Party’s name, symbol, slogan or colour. However, the alteration of any of these features does not appear to have been discussed in the minutes of the impugned NEC and NGC meetings of June 11, 2020, and June 26, 2020, respectively,” the letter reads.
The decision by the registrar raises the question of the party’s legal team that administered the oath to Mr Mudavadi and members of the Amani Council even before the process had run through the course.
Lugari MP Ayub Savula, who is also the ANC deputy party has, however, downplayed the issue only saying that his party stands for the rule of law and it will comply with registrar’s instruction.