Friday, October 26, 2007

Devolution is NOT the same as Majimbo

Right of Reply:

Chris, This post is in response to yours "Is Majimbo Good For Kenya?"

I beg to differ with some of the content.

To begin with, Devolution is NOT the same as Majimbo.

Majimbo is plural word for Jimbo which is swahili word for REGION. On the other hand devolution can be described as follows:

1. A passing down or descent through successive stages of time or a process.
2. Transference, as of rights or qualities, to a successor.
3. Delegation of authority or duties to a subordinate or substitute.
4. The transfer of powers from central government to regional and local governments.
5. (In Biology) Degeneration.

This definition(s) is/are simple and clear for anyone purporting to be politically informed. The political dictionary teaches us that in contrast to federalism, where each tier has protected areas of power, a devolved government remains constitutionally subordinate to the central government which gave it its power and which could in principle revoke it.

The above can therefore be taken to mean that ‘devolution’ is one of the components of a parliamentary system of government as suggested on the BOMAS DRAFT, which is what the ODM is propagating.

Both the Kilifi and Bomas drafts that were subject of the referendum in 2005 were in favour of regional governments, or federalism, which is the nearest equivalent English word. However, the Kilifi draft created a ‘rubber-stamp’ prime minister's post but it did not devolve any executive powers which everybody, including the current president and his court jesters, had initially agreed were the origin of all problems in Kenya. If anything, it the Kilifi Draft was rejected because it made it virtually impossible for any other tribe apart from Kikuyu to be president. In any case, the Bomas Draft does not have the words TRIBE or MAJIMBO anywhere in its pages. And those are facts!

Another correction; in your related post, you talk of certain areas in the country 'being bankrupt before they start', and then go ahead to give an example of the NEP - which you claim does not have any prospects of raising revenue on its own.

Please note a 'majimbo government' retains the responsibility of distributing national resources equitably amongst the regional states - which means, unlike now where a mere district in Nyeri can receive an allocation of about Kshs. 100m for water development funds while the entire North Eastern Province receives a third of that - all regions will receive equal resources from central government and (it gets sweeter) decide on how to use those resources in accordance with their own special needs and requirements!

Another thing, it is gravely unfortunate for Chris to suggest that a region which has gone through intentional segregation and neglect plus untold suffering of its residents at the hands of successive regimes to be used as an area for dumping toxic waste - AS IF - those people who live there are not human beings! Chris, for the sake of this country I am asking you to withdraw that suggestion if you lay claim to being a patriotic Kenyan!

Just to prove to you how off-track you are; When you say North Eastern province has got no self sustaining resources worth talking about, it means you have not done your research properly. The beef supplied by most butcheries in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu originate from NEP. The same region has helped Kenya to be an exporter of beef as a finished product as well as special breed livestock to Middle Eastern countries for ages. Even the revived Kenya Meat Commission plant gets most of its beef supplies from the NEP. On the other hand, Rift Valley province supplies the bulk of diary products in Kenya.

Lets not take this majimbo debate and misuse it to confuse Kenyans or start tribal / land clashes, please! Read the bomas draft and understand it, for it is freely available to download at Raila's blog! It makes no sense for PNU to oppose a constitution provision that was also in the Wako/Kilifi draft that they created (or should I say bastardised) and tabled for Kenyans as a referendum draft just two years ago. What if the YES! side had emerged victorious in the referendum, what would they be telling us now? Are they opposing it merely because Raila Odinga is no longer prime minister designate but president-in-waiting?

My own take is that a parliamentary system is better for this country as it makes the executive much more accountable to the people and it goes further to give the people a greater say in issues of governance and state expenditure. I mean, it would be lovely to have a prime minister being taken to task in the floor of the national assembly. It would also be fantastic to bring some relevance to the post of the leader of official opposition.


Sikh said...


Look at this

Majimbo is plural word for Jimbo which is swahili word for REGION. On the other hand devolution can be described as follows:

Then you say again this

4. The transfer of powers from central government to regional and local governments.

You spot any difference? me no.

You say that NEP is the supplier of meat to all parts of kenya and even export. This is very true i agree 100%. Am sure you also agree that most fish come from Naivasha, Turkana and Kisumu. What Majimbo will do is eliminate this idea of processing plants being in Nairobi when raw materials are from NEP, why can't we set up factories in NEP to process meet, advantages- employment for locals, less transport costs, name them.

What of Fish coming all the way from Kisumu to Thika, do you see any logic in that? Is it that Kisumu's soil cannot stand their weight of the building for the factory?

Majimbo is the WAY.

kalamari said...

I believe a good number of Kenyan voters, from Fulbright scholars to Kindergarten dropouts, know exactly what Raila means when he amorphously refers to Majimbo. This jamaa is telling us, in one word, that he is committed to delivering a constitution that guarantees and ensures equitable redistribution of the national cake to all 'regions' without favor. The real war mongers are people like Kibaki, Kombo and Jimnah who are frightening country folk by telling them to await relocation orders as soon as Raila takes over.

That said, this is quickly degenerating into a semantics war. In politics, whenever an opponent puts you on the defense, especially where you are wasting resources trying to explain 'what you mean', you may just loose some votes. This is what PNU under the advisement of Moi have managed to conjure up here. Whereas ODM-K has decided to redefine 'what they mean'; (I mean what is economic federalism?), ODM appears determined to continue using that historic word that frankly was defeated by what our grandfathers thought were patriotic nationalists. I mean, the word does have some negative sentimental values esp. with thoughts of gated white highland communities.

My advice to the Pentagon is this; You have already made the point and everybody knows 'what you mean'. Rather than repeatedly use the word Majimbo, please focus on the benefits only. A politician worth any salt should be able to explain the benefits of slicing the cake in equal pieces without throwing in the word Majimbo…. in several vernacular languages.

bloggeratti said...

Kalamari - I admire your resolve in the issue of Majimbo.

But you can't discount the element of risk, especially from the human element.

A Fulbright Scholar such as yourself would approach it soberly. A village bumpkin "kindergarten-dropout" would approach it as it is advised to him by his Mheshimiwa. All it takes is a little spark. What kind of spark you ask?

Earlier this year, a senior politician in Maasai-land said (on the news) and I quote;
"Tunaweza kuishi na wageni. Lakini wageni wakituonyesha madharau, tutawakumbusha sisi ni wenyeji."

I was in Moi University at the time of the Burnt Forest clashes. I saw two communities who previously coexisted peacefully, turn on each other with anything that could be described as a weapon.

My point? I agree, Majimbo does have its advantages. But there are imminent risks, and with the current crop of politicians we have (in both the opposition and government), I don't think we should wish away those risks.

chris said...

LOL! Damn this Majimbo debate and it's ability to split everything down the middle.

I can see the same is happening here in Kumekucha.

I also notice that folks are fond of lecturing others and accusing them of not having read the draft.

Notice how long I took before diving into the Majimbo story. I never write anything that I have not researched and understood because I always try and simplify things for people to understand.

But Kenyans and semantics, so lets start with Majimbo and devolution.

They are the same thing in this sense; Kenyans told the CKRC that they want a devolved system. And that is what was in the draft constitution and some smart alec decided to use the word Majimbo which historically in Kenya is a four letter word, thanx to Kenyatta and Tom Mboya. Although I am sure if Mboya were alive today he would support Devolution as per the Bomas Draft, knowing what we know today and even the reason why he was killed.

My suggestion is that we avoid the Mwai Kibaki/Mukhisa Kituyi clever technique of introducing semantics to confuse the public. Lets' keep everything simple.

What is being suggested here is taking political an governance power down to the people. So that if i am in Garissa I do not have to wait for government approval from Nairobi to dig a pit latrine in Garissa town.

Secondly we need to ask ourselves a question? Is taking power down to the people such a bad idea? Are the people of Kenya so stupid and irresponsible that they cannot govern themselves at the district level?

Majimbo is the only thing that can save Kenya.

Tribal tensions? In my view multi-party democracy beings much more tribal tensions than district governments which is what is in the Bomas draft being pushed by ODM.


P.S. Somebody sent me a tape toay of Newsline on KTN last night where 2 dons (former CKRC commissioners) shed a lot of light on Majimboism and mostly echoed what I have said in my post. It seems that nobody here caught that show. Pity it was so educative and would have saved me hours of research had I watched it before I wrote my post yesterday.

chris said...

By the way Phil,

Next time you disagree with a post, the best place to post your disagreement is as a comment below the post. NOT as a new post.

A new post is supossed to be a new idea/story/article and when it is a comment on another post, it makes it difficult for readers to follow what was in the original post being talked about and what is in the new post they are reading.


kalamari said...

Bloggeratti, I'm not quite sure when I was conferred the title Fulbright scholar. If you have any evidence, please provide to me ASAP..this 'new development' could advance my career. Of course there's risk my brother. Risk in in fact very human. The subsistence farmers in my village invest all they've got in purchasing and sowing hybrid maize seeds in anticipation of a bountiful harvest. This they do every year without knowing what the Tsunami has in store for them. Aren't these chaps playing some lower version of Russian roulette?

OK, maybe I'm going too far but the point is this; Have you ever been to a secluded beach at night under a new moon? I'm asking you to dive head fast into those dark waters. Get courage my brother, there's no such things as sea monsters (loch ness is still in dispute). There maybe rocks and sharks, but we know how to deal with those distractions. You see, the mayhem you witnessed in your University days happened within the boundaries of our current system. For lack of a better word, majimbo will demarcate clear regional and administrative boundaries and with that effectively ending disputes that lead to border/land clashes. Your past enemy will be your new trading partner.

chris said...


I am so busy just now, but I can't let your contribution go without support. We seem to be reading from the same script, same sentence same punctuation marks.

What many Kenyans fail to see is that we are a country in a crisis. It is like a plane going down and people rejection an idea to save the plane because it is too risky. But can't you see, the plane is going down anyway and will crash, can't you see????

Majimbo is the best chance we have of saving Kenya from the imminent crash we are headed for.

District governments will create jobs, will speed up development and there is so much going for it that the small disadvantages like the risk over the tribal thing are not there. In fact the more research I do, the more I realize how safe it will be.

For example many people fear being ejected from areas where they are a minority by the majority administration. BUT the same Bomas draft has a very powerful Bill of Rights that specifically protects the minority, the defenceless etc.

It is also instructive that both OPDM-K and ODM are in support of Majimbo.

Now here is the big kitendawili,

Why do you think PNU is so dead set against it when the same characters pushed for the idea by supporting the new constitution in the 2005 referendum?

Any suggestions? I have my ideas but I can't dare publish them here.


Mike said...

Chris says that under Majimbo, "all regions will receive equal resources from central government and (it gets sweeter) decide on how to use those resources in accordance with their own special needs and requirements"

If you will have equal distribution of resources, then there must be equal contribution of the same resources.

Otherwise, what this style of majimbo will bring is communism/socialism where every one waits for the other to contribute. After all, the distribution will be equal.

To put this into reality, consider the case of the East African Community.

The EAC is headed towards a political federation. If we adopted Chris' style of equal distribution of resources within the EAC federation, Kenya would have to share a significant part of its taxes to UG and TZ.

I am sure if anyone proposed that today, Kenyans would be up in arms asking why we should contribute more and get less distribution. In fact, within a short time, the EAC would be dead again

That is what would happen under this equal distribution Majimbo if it was adopted in Kenya.

Some regions will ask, why do we contribute 25% of taxes and only get 10% distribution? The region will soon start asking for more independence.

Which is why i assert - if you want equal distribution under Majimbo, then there must be equal contribution

Anonymous said...

If Majimbo was in the referendum why do the same people campaigning now on it reject it in the first place, and now are audaciously claiming to deliver it to Kenyans? Its a pity that many with short memory cannot see the hypocrisy behind ODM.

Phil said...

Thank you sikh. Read further and you will see difference in the next paragraph.

Blogerrati, imminent risks? Clashes have happened in our own presidential system. I believe clashes will be eliminated because a) local goverment will be more vigilant, b) majimbo forces government and opposition to be more responsible and accoutable c) by having more powers in local development projects, it will reduce inequality and resentment, which is main cause of conflict.

Chris, had you really researched well about the difference between majimbo and devolution? Or the fact NEP is a supplier of livestock? Please be a gentleman and accept some of your shortcomings. Its too much for you go as far as suggesting toxic waste be dumped in NEP. Anyone reading that from NEP will not take it lying low.

About PNU, please publish your suggestions here Chris. You always insist on saying you made resolutions before you started this blog. Change of mind or your relying on rumours?

chris said...

Phil ndungu yangu wa karibu,

Unanitafuta kweli

Nili do?

On the NEP toxic waste issue;
Hong Kong is a tiny island and they damp their waste within the island in land fills but do it creatively and have created a golf course on the top and the gas being produced by the garbage is being recovered and used for industrial purposes. Use your imagination and think what we can do with this project and low populated NEP that is so huge.

For instance there is a way we can recycle most of the mountains of grabage to create charcoal and thus save our forests. And there are numerous other environmental friendly solutions.

But again we are side-stepping the real issue here. Which is are you for or against Majimbo or whatever you want to call it?

I make mistakes, I am not perfect. Although I still don't see the difference between Majimbo and the people of Kenya's request for a devolved system (we are really just splitting hairs here).

I take this opportunity to wish you a lovely weekend and to tell you that you are leaving comments in the Kumekucha Jimbo (already declared) but elections bado. Interested? I confirm in advance that we shall not throw out people who are against Majimboism from our Jimbo but we shall seek to use tourism as our main revenue generator and will therefore welcome all.


Phil said...

I am 100% for Majimbo or devolution.

Environment is my forte. Golf courses or not, you will be surprised to find that golf courses are actually a threat to the environment and fight against poverty.

Visit to find out why.

Anonymous said...

i do not like majimbo. If jaluos are thrown out of nairobi, who shall be selling groundnuts around the city estates? This is a business controlled entirely by jaluo kids. Of course we have some advantages if these toothless idiots are thrown out of Nairobi. The smelly Gikomba fish market will be no more. Kioko. BC, Canada. Kazi iendelee na tumalise ujinga.

Steve said...

Who is this Kioko? Why do you insult Luos? What have they done to you? Clearly you have not come out of your tribal cocoon and realised we are all kenyans. All 42 tribes and its not Luos only who support Raila and ODM or the majimbo idea.
Who said jaluo kids are the only ones who sell groundnuts? Just because you are in Canada does not mean you can just insult a poor kenyan who most likely did not have the resources you had, which was more thatn likely brought about by poor governance. At least the kid is selling groundnuts and not in crime. I am so ashamed of people like you who think "I am up there and the rest down here." It is sad you call yourself kenyan. Shame on you!! Get a grasp of the issues that affect Kenya and stop attacking the poor and other tribes. To say the least, you are the lower than that poor boy who sells groundnuts and the people who look for a living in the smelly gikomba fish market.
Steven M, Nairobi, Kenya.

Anonymous said...

Steve. Did I attack the vending of groundnuts? NO! I thought i wrote in praise of the business minded jaluo kids! I am sure one day they could manage the Kisumu Stock Exchange if Kenya becomes a majimbo state. Again, are you telling us that a fish market is not smelly?? Are you telling us that gikomba fish market is not smelly? Kwenda! Also do not you know the jaluo's take pride in tooth removal just as I take pride in being circumcised. There is nothing tribal in my posting and I challenge any reader to point out!! I am only expressing my democratic views, something the ODM wants to turn into past tense. Kioko. BC, Canada. kazi iendelee na tumalise ujinga na upumbavuu.

Anonymous said...

we know u r kamau.don't hide ur identity mkubwa.u r mkubwa coz ur dad looted money or waz a moi or kibaki sycophant n u now assume uv made it courtesy of stolen monies n impoverising other this space-- the sun will not go down before u n ur "succesfull" people rot it misery.u think uv got a right to insult luos coz ur in canada?as u cn observe its only ur central province tribe which is against devolution.ask ur self why.coz the loot ur family has been participating in will be no more come 2008 n u belong in jail.

Anonymous said...

Anon. I do not come from Central. What makes you think it is only the wakikuyus who detest this devil? I am a law abiding Kenyan and have never been involved in theft not even in the theft of sugar cane remains (molasses). I only stated that groundnut hawking is in the hands of jaluos and that is a fact! When I lived in Nairobi, I used to see charcoal black kids peddling these nuts in Sh1 packets.
I wonder why their idiotic parents could not enroll them in schools. Of course, if majimbos are adopted Kisumu could become one huge fish market. the smell... Kioko. BC, Canada. Kazi Iendelee...

Steve said...

Clearly Kioko you have no idea what happens in this country as you sit pretty in Canada. Most poor people dont have money even for a meal and one of the largest challenges they have is that do you try survive or give an education on an empty stomach. If you could get the point that hunger is their first need to satisfy then you would not call those parents idiotic. But hey, you are in canada! what do you know of poverty?

Steve said...

Clearly you have no insight as to the happenings in Kenya Mr Kioko. Also the fact that you dont see your comments as tribalistic then leads to a very sorry situation. If you knew Kenya very well then you would understand that poverty is a reality in this country and the economic growth has made things worse. Even Kibaki has admitted not everyone has felt it. Most poor people are caught up in a catch 22 situation. Do I take my child to school or look for a penny to feed him/her? With the child's help of course. I have seen a child in the village sent home because the father cannot get 20 bob to pay for some need of the school. The money the parent receives goes to paying rent and feeding the children in most cases its not enough even to do so. Those idiotic parents as you call them, have a very tough life. But hey, you are in Canada, what do you know about poverty!!

Bii said...

I have been curious on majimbo,i just moved to America n i highly admire the federal government.I am Kikuyu n my family has struggled for wealth just like any ordinary Kenyan,i came across Kiokos story n its a "LOOSERS COMMENTS"whenever a team feels won or defeated they bring out personal talks.Kioko study Canadian economy realise the state contols alot n that has trickled down to enforced laws.Canadians have access to most facilities due to well managed state.
I think the best government in Kenya will be one that raises standards of the poor thru empowering them by creating jobs n also having minimum wages n steady judiciary.
I am convinced that Raila has the power to influence real change n people who are scared of Raila r people who dont care of the poor.
Raila my prayer is let ur motives be real.

James Macharia said...

I think Mike there asked the million dollar question that everyones seems to be forgetting under the guise of sharing the national cake equally.

Obviously what equal distribution of resources means is that some Jimbos will fork significantly more than others in the national kitty while getting significantly less out of it.It's obvious that there will be significant differences generated in the various regions.

Some places are more well endowed than others. That is fact. Consider the size of North Eastern Province to Central for example. It's likely that NEP will contribute less than central unless they strike oil over there, whether they suply beef or not. Their population is about 40% that of Central. By sheer logic, more people are likely to contribute more revenue in terms of taxes. Further central supplies, tea, coffee, pyrethrum, dairy, etc etc.

The paradox is of course that NEP needs more money than central to erect lacking infrastructure because of its huge area. Infrastructure is very expensive.

The other asinine idea is to allocate the revenue that each region generates back to that jimbo. That means if western for example, generates 40% less money than Nyanza then they'll be allocated 40% less funds than Nyanza. So what happens after a few years of this policy. If both use their money wisely, the inequality will increase significantly by leaps and bounds.

Mature federations like Germany have mechanism of achieving a certain minimum for each region. The rich states invariably drag the poor ones aong. Paying more into the system and getting less out of it.

These are the hard questions that the Majimbo proponents are not asking of their leaders. That is not to say that the exact same thing doesn't happen under the unitary government. The mathematical equation is the same whether the government is unitary or federal.

The problem is the Majimboists promising some sort of panacea like Majimbo is the cure for all ills while at the end day, no matter how you do it, unfairness in the system is inbuilt.

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