Regressive And Draconian Decrees
PARTY OPINION Raman Singh President, NFP Free, fair and credible elections are a pre-requisite to parliamentary democracy and good governance. The National Federation Party has made two submissions to this effect to the Electoral Commission, on February 14 and again on February 24. Following the first meeting, the Commission invited the Party to point out draconian provisions of Decrees that the NFP believes are not conducive to a fair electoral process. We highlight the regressive and draconian provisions of the Political Parties (Registration, Funding, Conduct and Disclosures) Decree 2013, namely on the restriction on trade unionists and disallowing corporate organisations to donate funds. This was submitted to the Electoral Commission on February 24.
Definition of trade union officials as pubic officers In our submission we expressed our concern regarding the prohibition of trade unionists from becoming members or even expressing support towards a political party, holding office in a political party or even speaking at political party meetings, because they are defined as public officers under the Political Parties Decree 2013 (Decree 4 of 2013) and a subsequent amendment Decree (Decree 11 of 2013). The NFP points out that this Decree is inconsistent with the Kenyan Political Parties Act of 2011 that the Attorney-General claimed was the basis of the Political Parties Decree. Section 14(2) (d) of the Political Parties Decree defines trade unionists as public officers. By doing so it prohibits a trade unionist from being a member and holding any position in a political party. It further restricts trade unionist from taking part in any political activity which may compromise or be seen to compromise the ‘neutrality’ of the office held. A public officer in ordinary meaning is a person employed by the government. Such person must be on government payroll which the Kenyan Political Parties Act of 2011 also stipulates. The definition of public officer in the Decree is also inconsistent with the definition in the Fiji Constitution. Section 14 (2) of the Decree lists all the other public officers to whom the Decree’s restrictions under section 14(1) apply. The NFP points out that no ordinary person will challenge the correctness of defining such others as public officers and applying the political restrictions under the Decree to them. They are all employed and paid by the government and their neutrality and independence is of paramount importance for the maintenance of public trust in them in the performance of their public duties. The NFP further points out that a trade union is not a public organisation. It is a private organisation of workers.