Change of our electoral laws for a more inclusive Government

Written By: Peter Wafula Murumba
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The power of the Presidency to change the equation of how Government resources are shared and used has led to the urgent demand for a more inclusive executive.

The monies to the counties, which are divided by a formula by the Commission of Revenue Allocation, are only a portion of the national budget, meaning that the presidency can determine on “Who Gets What, When, How”.

There are only two ways out to ensuring that Kenyans feel that there is absolute fairness in how national resources are shared. One is for a bulk of the national budget is allocated to the Counties and in a transparent manner. The other is for the parliamentary budgeting and oversight roles to reflect equal representation, so that constituencies and Counties can know that their representatives have the power to effectively negotiate “Who Gets What, When and How”.

The first option would deliver little national vision and economies of scale and would almost demand that Kenya becomes a federal system.

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The second option is for the number of MPs in the National Assembly to equally reflect the population. Such a distribution would ensure that the budget and how the National Government plans and implements reflects the numbers in each constituency. Winning the presidency would therefore become weightless.

Article 89 of the constitution says that “the boundaries of each constituency shall be such that the number of inhabitants in the constituency is, as nearly as possible, equal to the population quota, but the number of inhabitants of a constituency may be greater or lesser than the population quota”. It goes on to make an exception to the equal share by providing for “the number of inhabitants of a constituency or ward may be greater or lesser than the population quota by a margin of not more than—forty per cent for cities and sparsely populated areas; and thirty per cent for the other areas.” This means that Kenyan votes can have a difference of up to 80% between urban and rural areas.

The result of this accounting is that the citizens of Nairobi County are the most under-represented nationally. It is as if they are being punished for living in a city where most Kenyans do not regard as “home”. Yet as Kenya urbanises rapidly, most town/city dwellers will have been born there. They deserve equal representation.

The Bill of Rights puts “Equality and freedom from discrimination” as the most fundamental constitutional requirement. It says in Article 27: “Every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law”. That equality includes full and equal enjoyment of all rights and fundamental freedoms. And that “women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres”. On the conduct of the Government, it says “the State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground…”

Equality is the name of the game where the constitution is concerned. It cannot justify the voting power of Kenyans having an 80% difference. It should be equal or have a much smaller gap to account for the special considerations of sparsely populated areas.

That will come from making voting power more equal: meaning making Kenya a real “one-man-one-vote” Country. Otherwise the populous will hold on to their power to decide the Presidency while the sparsely populated hold on to their relative parliamentary strength.

The views expressed in this article don’t necessarily represent KBC’s opinion

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