Kenyan candidates raise billions for epic State House race

Aspiring presidential candidates have raised billions of shillings ahead of what promises to be the most expensive race in Kenya’s history.

The head of communication for Mr Raphael Tuju’s 2012 campaign said he had raised nearly Sh3 billion.

Mr Tuju was also planning to order three helicopters in the first phase of his campaign strategy to complement his Tuju 2012 Bus, said Mr Zach Mutuma.

Another candidate, Mr Peter Kenneth, is said to have raised Sh2.5 billion for his bid.

Internal Security minister George Saitoti has a Sh2 billion kitty set aside for his bid, according to one insider, though one analyst, Mr Moses Kuria, said the amount is not adequate.

Mr Mutuma and Mr Kuria are among a host of campaign insiders interviewed for a major report on election financing that appears in the upcoming issue of The EastAfrican out on Saturday.

“Sh2 billion is too little for a campaign,” said Mr Kuria, who works with the Party of National Unity, putting the tag of a “serious campaign” at least Sh8 billion.

A political strategist who worked in President Kibaki’s 2007 campaign team said each of the candidates would require at least Sh11 billion for the entire campaign lasting at least one year, a huge chunk going into bankrolling candidates seeking to become MPs, governors and senators using their party.

These are individuals the presidential candidates would expect to spread their influence at the grassroots. The biggest spend, the estimates show, would be on logistics and publicity.

A study by the Coalition for Accountable Political Financing, a Nairobi-based think-tank, estimates that President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga spent Sh6 billion in their presidential bids in 2007.

Campaign insiders said they expect that a well-run presidential bid — targeting to attract a sizeable number of senators and Members of Parliament that would allow a candidate to rule comfortably without getting into messy coalitions, could cost between Sh8 billion million and Sh11 billion.

Political strategists and pollsters are estimating that top presidential contenders such as Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, Mr William Ruto, Mr Odinga, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, Mr George Saitoti, Mr Kenneth, Mr Tuju and Ms Martha Karua could spend such amounts each if they were to launch serious national presidential campaigns.

At this level of spending by top contenders, this election might inject close to Sh40 billion to the Kenyan economy, a financial stimulus that could spark inflation.

This money is likely to end up in the pockets of small and big business owners as well as well-placed consultants in the media and politics as candidates splash cash on publicity, merchandise, travel and operating campaign secretariats.

Raising campaign money will not be easy, however, after two recent laws — the Elections and Political Parties Act and Campaign Finance Bill — banned candidates from raising money from foreigners and imposed a maximum limit of Sh5 million that a single donor can contribute.



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