What is the boundaries commission controversy all about?
Let us imagine for a minute that you come from one of the really moneyed families of Kenya (who have mostly made their money from graft) and you were at the dinner table as a family deciding where you would go for your Christmas holidays this year. The way it is done in most families is that the older and bigger folks usually have a bigger say than the younger and less experienced. There really is no democracy because if mum decides that it has to be London to impress her friends, then that vote carries much more weight than Junior’s vote to see Brazil where all the soccer magicians are born. Of course mzee wa nyumba can over-rule everybody and use his veto power to ensure that the family goes to Dubai because he has some personal business there he would like to tie up while the family is on holiday.
At the centre of all the arguments and threats to go to court is a simple question. Should a constituency be based on the number of people in it or the geographical size? At independence it was mostly based on population. However when Daniel arap Moi came along as Kenya’s second president, his advisors came up with a brilliant way of diluting and limiting the influence of the populous Kikuyu tribe. It is interesting how Moi is very quick these days to deny any historical suggestions that he was scared and yet that is the naked truth. For younger generation Kenyans it is hard to believe but Moi really had to be coaxed into being president. “Hawa kikuyu watamaliza mimi,” (These Kikuyus will finish me) are words that came out of Moi’s lips quite often, shortly after Kenyatta’s death. Read excerpts from my revealing book, Dark secrets of the Kenyan presidency. Now Moi’s idea of dealing with his perceived enemies was to increase the number of constituencies in areas where he had support and then limit the number of constituencies in Kikuyuland. It worked like a charm because even when the opposition got huge number of votes from central province, when the sums were done in parliament, the Rift valley had more MPs and would therefore always have an advantage in parliament. They still do. It also made rigging presidential elections very easy for Moi. Now that the Moi era is over the Kikuyu community are eager that this injustice is corrected, however Kalenjin MPs are determined that we continue with the evil that Moi put in place by basing constituencies on geographical area covered. If these fellows are to be taken seriously then we shall end up with constituencies in the North Eastern province with 500 registered voters or less. Meaning a legislator elected to the house by his extended family and clan will sit right next to a colleague who landed in parliament with 500,000 votes. Is this fair?
Now in concluding this post, I need somebody to explain something to me. The Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission based the new constituencies on the requirements of the new constitution. They also say that they came up with a number, 133,000 which they consider to be the ideal number for any constituency. How come then Mandera in the sparsely populated North Eastern province got 2 new constituencies?
In my view balancing things will not work. We need to bite the bullet and do this thing democratically. In my view democracy means one man one vote having the maximum impact in our politics. As it is now those who come from low populated areas have a clear advantage when
it comes to voting. It is really as simple as that.
Are you in the diaspora and planning to come to Kenya on holiday?
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