It is important to know how to join a political party in Kenya. The Kenyan Constitution says every citizen is free to make political choices, which includes the right to participate in the activities of, or recruit members for, a political party (see Article 38(1) (b) of the Constitution).
Political party membership in Kenya is the lifeline of any political party. To become a member of a political party in Kenya, that party must be registered following the Political Parties Act.
The Kenyan Constitution and the Political Parties Act provide political parties with the legal leeway to determine eligibility for membership for a political party in Kenya.
Therefore, every political party has the freedom to decide:
- who can join the political party, and
- the criteria a person needs to satisfy before becoming a member.
A political party stipulates eligibility for membership in the party’s constitution.
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To become a member of a political party in Kenya, there are guidelines to follow.
Political parties in Kenya recruit members using Party Membership Verification Forms specified by the party. Every member of the political party should fill and duly sign these forms. Once a person’s name enters the membership register of a political party, the person becomes a member of the political party.
It is an offence to register a person as a member of a political party in Kenya without their consent.
A political party should always keep an updated and accurate list of party membership. The list should be available for the members and the public at the party’s head office and all party offices in the counties.
The details required by the Party Membership Verification Form include the:
- name of the county;
- name of the member;
- age, sex and occupation of the member;
- residence of the member (Constituency, Ward);
- postal address and telephone number;
- Village or Ward or another local leader (recommendation?);
- the number of the party membership card, the date it was issued and the place it was issued;
- ID or Passport number of the member;
- the subscription or membership fee;
- membership acknowledgement;
- name of the member and their signature and the name of the recruiter and their signature.
The membership card for a political party also carries the above details except those relating to the party recruiter.
Political coalitions do not have their members but individual parties in the coalition have their members.
A person who is a Kenyan citizen and at least 18 years is qualified to be a member of a political party.
In recruiting members, the recruitment process for the political party should include the following elements:
- the party constitution must spell out the requirements for membership recruitment;
- the party must introduce a membership card of a specific standard;
- the party and the member must complete the member verification form;
- the party must keep and continuously update a membership list;
- the party must keep and update a list of membership dues paid following the party constitution.
When the party and the member complete the member verification form:
- the party forwards details of the member through the Integrated Political Parties Management System (IPPMS)
- the Registrar of Political Parties verifies and validates the uploaded membership in the IPPMS.
- once a person has been verified into the membership register of a political party, the person becomes a member of that party.
A person can also register as a member of a political party in Kenya online through the e-Citizen portal. Create an account or sign in to the portal and then look for and select the “Office Of The Registrar Of Political Parties” option under “National Services”. Follow the prompts and under the “Our Services” section, choose the “Political Party Membership Registration” option and follow the other steps provided.
A member of a political party in Kenya has several rights including the right to:
- participate in the activities of a political party;
- campaign for a political party or cause;
- contest for leadership positions in a party;
- run as a candidate in the party nomination for candidates for general election and by-election;
- access to party documents and records.
A person can check their political party membership online through the e-Citizen portal. Create an account or sign in to the portal and then look for and select the “Office Of The Registrar Of Political Parties” option under “National Services”. Follow the prompts and under the “Our Services” section, choose the “Political Party Membership Status” option and follow the other steps provided.
For more on how to join a political party in Kenya, download the guide to political party membership (PDF).
See part two of of this article, How to Leave a Political Party.