Is President Kenyatta committing an election offence by stating the achievements of his administration in the last four years as he seeks re-election for a second term?
A look at the Election Offences Act suggests that he could be doing so but it is up to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to decide.
According to the law, President Kenyatta will be required to stop using the achievements of the government under his administration as a campaign tool as soon as the electoral commission officially states the date of the next election.
Using the achievements would be in breach of the law, according to the Election Offences Act, and would amount to misuse of public resources.
The offence comes with a fine of a maximum Sh2 million or six years in jail, or the double jeopardy of both.
The Act states: “No government shall publish any advertisements of achievements of the respective government either in the print media, electronic media, or by way of banners or hoardings in public places during the election period.”
Whether it would be categorised as an offence however depends on whether this happens during “the election period.”
The Act defines the election period as “the period between the publication of a notice by the Commission for a presidential, parliamentary or county election under sections 14, 16, 17 and 19 of the Elections Act, 2011 and the Gazettement of the election results.”
The Elections Act requires that whenever a presidential election is to be held, the IEBC publishes a notice of the holding of the election in the Kenya Gazette as well as the print media. In the case of a General Election, as in the current case, this ought to be at least 60 days before the date of the election. This means that this ought to be done by at least June 8, marking the start of the election period.
Laws forbidding the use of public resources during elections have been difficult tom implement given that the President, and governors, continue holding their positions until the date when they hand over to their successors. This would mean that they continue carrying out their functions even as they campaign either for themselves or the person they endorse to take over after them.
President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto on Monday launched a website through which the people can track the achievements of the Jubilee administration under their watch.
The website, known as a portal, is www.delivery.go.ke and its launch was seen as the start of the President’s campaign for re-election and a tool against which to gauge their implementation of the manifesto they presented in the run-up to the last election.