In Kenya, political parties are currently making policy adjustments within their parties to put their candidates in prime spots to win next year’s election. Similarly, policy provisions to guide the elections are being put in place by institutions including the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP), the Political Parties Liaison Committee (PPLC) and the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal (PPDT). While this is taking place, the need to proactively promote persons with disabilities (PWDs) active participation should not be neglected.
WFD, under phase II of the Kenya Inclusive Political Parties (KIPP) programme, continues to promote PWDs’ inclusion in politics. We are doing this by partnering with political parties to ensure they respond to the strategic and practical needs of PWDs within their internal party structures, political commitments, policies, and in elections. KIPP also works with disabled persons organisations (DPOs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) by equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to promote disability inclusion in politics.
Training on advocacy and media engagement
A technical working group (TWG) has been established under the programme to promote coordination and knowledge sharing. It is responsible for ensuring that all advocacy efforts on political rights and inclusion of PWDs are channelled to state actors through strategic partners – such as the Kenya Disability Parliamentary Association (KEDIPA) and the County Assemblies Disability Caucus (CADICA). The group also plays an important role through media engagement to amplify PWDs’ voices. For this purpose, it was important to provide the group with practical knowledge and skills on advocacy and media engagement.
Through participatory training, the members’ capacity to efficiently identify advocacy issues, identify key actors, develop advocacy messages, and craft out clear strategies were strengthened.
The programme also offered training on:
- How the media works
- Strategies for tailoring messages for specific media outlets and audiences
- Preparing for media interviews
- Building confidence and skills to deliver and contribute to panel discussions
Improving understanding of electoral vetting tools on inclusion
Vetting tools developed by IEBC are critical for promoting democratic elections in Kenya. As such, there is need to have clear provisions that respond to the needs of PWDs in political contests. There is also need for political parties to have a clear understanding of the tools and to comply with the provisions provided. However, not all political parties are conversant with the extent to which the provisions within the vetting tools promote PWDs inclusion.
On 7 October 2021, WFD Kenya held a consultative meeting that brought together political parties, DPOs and CSOs. The participants were able to internalize various provisions on promotion of disability inclusion within the vetting tools/guidelines developed by IEBC. The tools discussed included the party nomination list regulation, and the party primaries regulation.
On the parties’ nomination list regulation, the DPOs/CSOs present registered their reservation on the order of names in the list. They argued that the names of PWDs are usually listed at the bottom. As a result, they have little chance of being picked for nomination given that IEBC ordinarily picks names at the top. It was proposed that political parties should deliberately ensure that they list at least one PWD at the top of their nomination list to give them a fair chance.
Main concerns on the party primaries regulations were violence, high cost of politics, and lack of free, and fair outcomes. Rampant violence and hooliganism witnessed during party primaries disproportionately affect PWDs. To tame this, DPOs and CSOs and political parties urged that IEBC should impose hefty penalty on those found culpable. As confirmed in a recent study on the Cost of Politics in Kenya, the high cost of politics comes about with high fees in nominations and in campaigns. DPOs and CSOs urged political parties to consider reducing nomination fees for PWDs and to support them in conducting campaigns. Political parties were also urged to promote fairness in nomination by ensuring only genuine winners in the exercise are awarded party certificates to contest in elections.
Development of an advocacy action plan
This activity was prioritised in recognition of the importance of building capacity and facilitating DPOs and CSOs voices within political dialogue. A precise and actionable advocacy action plan was jointly developed during a two-day workshop attended by the KIPP partners. The action plan serves as a guide to DPOs and CSOs on how to engage with key actors in political processes.
All these activities held have resulted into positive progress towards promoting inclusion of PWDs within political parties and in elections. WFD and KIPP partners will continue building on the impetus created to promote multiparty democracy through disability inclusion for better outcomes in the 2022 general elections.