How Political Parties have Evolved since Independence
Political parties bring people who share similar views on political activities or issues together to win an election. Across the globe, governments are formed through political parties. This explains why parties become very active in mobilizing voters and popularizing themselves ahead of any election. Ideally, political parties should attract and inspire people to support their cause by enrolling as members. They ought to resonate with concerns that citizens have and should unify or mediate citizens with diverse interests.
Since Kenya became independent, many changes have happened in political parties. These changes are more or less similar to what we are witnessing today. Here’s how political parties have evolved over time:
#1 KANU takes Power
Upon independence in 1963, the Kenya African National Union (KANU) produced the first president, Jomo Kenyatta. KANU had been founded in 1944 to effectively articulate the grievances of Kenyans against the colonial government at the time. KANU was a product of a merger between the Kenya African Union (KAU), the Kenya Independence Movement (KIM) and the National People’s Convention Party. In 1960, the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) was formed to challenge KANU. However, KADU dissolved and joined KANU voluntarily after independence, in 1964.
#2 Ban of Opposition Parties
Even so, a smaller party, the Kenya People’s Union (KPU) formed in 1966 became the opposition. The party was later banned following political unrest and its leader was detained. No opposition party was registered after 1969, making KANU the only political party. After President Kenyatta’s death in 1978, his vice president, Daniel Moi, formerly a KADU member, took over as interim president. He became the president in October, 1978 after being elected to head KANU.
#3 The Single Party State
The National Assembly passed an amendment on section 2A of the constitution in June, 1982 make Kenya a single party state in June 1982. This made KANU the only political party in the country, and the single party reign was further reinforced during the 1988 elections.
#4 Return of Multiparty Democracy
The National Assembly repealed section 2A of the constitution in 1991 paving way for formation of more political parties. By 1992, several parties had been formed and in December 1992, the first multiparty elections were held. KANU retained 55% of parliamentary seats with the rest going to opposition parties. The 1997 parliamentary reforms expanded Kenya’s democratic space with the number of registered political parties growing to 26 from just 11. Since then, over 160 political parties have been registered with the likes of Ford Kenya, Ford Asili and DP being formed during the Moi era and Narc, Ford people, SDP, Sisi kwa sisi, Safina etc in the run up to 2002 general election.
#5 Regulation of Political Parties
After promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, measures to control political parties were put in place through the Political Parties Act, 2011. The Act puts in place measures that guide formulation, management and regulation of political parties to avoid mushrooming of parties allied to individuals and to prevent dishonest leaders from forming parties for monetary gains. The Office of Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) was established by the Act to implement and enforce the law.