Constituencies reduction ruled out

Wednesday, November 27th, 2019 00:00 |
BBI members led by Bishop Lawi Imathiu (left) of the Methodist Church when the taskforce held public participation forum involving various political parties recently. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) taskforce has ruled out a proposal to reduce the number of constituencies.

They maintained that all existing 290 constituencies will be retained, including the protected seats as they have become key for representation of sparsely populated areas.

By this proposal, the team thus, also ruled out the scrapping of the Woman Rep position which was part of the proposals given by Kenyans as one of the ways to reduce the ballooning wage bill.

Merge constituencies

There have been calls for the scrapping or merging of some constituencies as one of the ways to arrest the runaway wage bill.

The suggestion by the taskforce leaves the electoral system in a state of confusion as the law calls for delimitation of boundaries a process which the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is about to commence.

BBI team has, however, proposed radical changes in the electoral system way of nominations by political party primaries. It proposes nomination lists through parties should be completed in a transparent process governed by the political parties overseen by the Registrar of Political Parties and the IEBC.

The team proposes that individuals included in any party lists shall initially have undergone a process that uses transparent public participation in the counties even before any other vetting procedure is used.

This move has been informed by the fact that in the past processes, nominations have been skewed to favour, allies, family and business associates of the party leaders. By doing so, marginalised persons, such as people with disabilities and women have been denied a chance to represent over the years.

To make elections, fair and representative of the people, the team proposes that the people’s choice, as reflected in the election of their representatives, including in party primaries and nominations, in a proportional system shall be upheld through fair, free and transparent elections.

Further, the task force recommends that every Kenyan be given a chance to vote and that the vote counts.

“Political parties should have strong county-based party branches that will allow the people to have the political forums and avenues to hold their elected leaders accountable throughout a term and not just during elections,” reads the report.

“There shall be the equalisation of representation and equality of citizenship, as much as possible, by ensuring that each Kenyan vote has the same status and power, as envisaged in the Constitution,” reads the report which was released yesterday to President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Deputy William Ruto and Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The party nominations have remained a thorny issue with parties accused of mishandling the process to pick cronies.

Parties are compelled through the Political Parties Act to be consistent with the Constitution to meet the Gender Rule and other constitutional measures of inclusion through their party lists. 

The import of this is that it will equalise both genders in political terms, rather than creating a parallel system that creates a sense of tokenism.

Devolve parties

The team has also came up with fundamental changes in the way political parties are operated in the capital city and advises that they be devolved.

The Elections Act provides that a political party shall nominate its candidates for an election under the Act at least 45 days before a General Election in accordance with its constitution and nomination rules.

Subsequently, a political party shall not change the candidate nominated after the nomination of that person has been received by the Commission.

A person is qualified for nomination as member of parliament if the person is registered as a voter; and is nominated by a political party, or is an independent candidate, satisfies any educational, moral and ethical requirements prescribed by the Constitution and the Elections Act.

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