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Why Churches are up in arms over demand for audited accounts

A number of churches have decried what they term as a discriminatory move by the Registrar of Societies requiring them to provide audited accounts so as to have their licenses renewed.

However, Attorney-General Githu Muigai said it was a requirement in law that “societies” which include churches, should give their audited accounts, but directed that they be given a grace period “so as not to cause any disruption.”

However, the deputy chairman of the Kenya National Congress of Pentecostal Churches and Ministries, Rev Stephen Ndicho, termed the demands disturbing saying if not reversed, they were likely to drive a wedge between the Pentecostal churches and the government.

UNPRECEDENTED

“What has always been required from us is the annual returns. For the registrar to demand audited annual returns is unprecedented and will lead to our churches incurring additional costs of securing services of an independent auditor,” he said in a statement.

Rev Ndicho, a former legislator turned clergyman, said his association had received a number of complaints from its members, directed at the Deputy Registrar of Societies, who had declined to receive annual returns that did not have audited accounts attached to them.

It was not clear why the new rules had been put out, but the churches read mischief of wanting to create friction between the church and State.

‘PINCH OF SALT’

“We at KNCPCM take with a pinch of salt given that this is an arbitrary action and all it is meant is to bring strife between church and government especially during an election year,” read the statement.

Rev Ndicho claimed none other than President Kenyatta had intervened in 2015, urging that no arbitrary laws outside of what is provided for in existing legal framework should be imposed to the religious bodies as this was likely to affect their work, but the new demands had come as a surprise.

The churches have appealed to the Attorney-General to intervene and have the new provision, which the churches said had not been part of the requirements over the years, reversed.