By Stephen Makabila
Senior intelligence operatives are taking a great deal of interest in the financial dealings of some presidential hopefuls, and their parties.
Their attention has been caught by the flurry of costly pre-campaign rallies being held more than eight months to the 2013 General Election.
Credible sources say quiet efforts are being made to follow the money ahead of the first election in which candidates are bound by campaign financing laws.
“There seems to be a lot of money at the disposal of some politicians,” a high-ranking source said yesterday. “We are watching their activities day in, day out.”
The interest by the nation’s spies comes as a coalition of civil society groups estimates that candidates for president will spend significantly more money in the upcoming race than was splashed out during the 2007 contest.
The Coalition for Accountable Political Financing (CAPF) says the top two political parties spent at least Sh6 billion in 2007; some of it was raised through illegal or criminal means. Candidates were then under no obligation to disclose financing arrangements.
CAPF predicts the upcoming contest will see much more spent on the presidential race, with the main contenders laying down as much as $100 million (over Sh8 billion) each. There are fears some of this money may be looted from public coffers or donated by narco-traffickers and other smugglers whose activities fund terrorism.
Security chiefs are reportedly curious about the methods potential candidates are using to build up their campaign chests.
Interest has been stirred by the extravagance on display during recent pre-campaign stops. Despite the real battle being many months away, top politicians are burning up money on helicopters, large motorcades, huge contributions at fundraisers, and slush funds to accommodate a retinue of aides and allied MPs.
With rising political stakes and shifting alliances, the last two months have witnessed a frenzy of campaign rallies by the leading aspirants.
“The frequency of these rallies has become a concern,” our intelligence source said. The Standard has established that at least three leaders are on the National Security Intelligence Service’s radar. The trio has been the most active politically, holding three or more rallies every weekend. Each rally requires at least Sh3 million, and some politicians have dropped close to Sh100 million crisscrossing the country ahead of the real race.