Wednesday, November 17, 2010
The Interim Independent Boundary Review Commission (IIBRC) tried to manipulate population statistics as per the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census released by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) on August 31, 2010, to fit into a political matrix.
A close scrutiny of the proposed additional 80 constituencies reveals some bias, some of which look too obvious and deliberate. Indeed, blatant.
In Western Province, the most observable one is with regard to creating three additional constituencies in Vihiga County where small constituencies such as Vihiga and Sabatia are proposed for split.
Vihiga constituency, where Andrew Ligale the Chairman of IIBRC lost in ODM primaries in the 2007 General Election, has only a population of 91,616 which deviate from the population quota of 133,139 by 66 percent. Secondly, in the same county of Vihiga, why split Sabatia constituency with a total population of 129,678 into two and yet it fall short the population quota? The two constituencies are also not so big geographically as Vihiga is only 90 square kilometres while Sabatia is only 110 square kilometres.
In the same province, populous constituencies such as Lugari with 292,151, and area of 568 square kilometres, Webuye (230,253) and area of 404 square kilometres and Kanduyi (229,701) and 318.5 square kilometres were left out. The chairman, Mr Ligale should explain to Kenyans why part of his team made such a decision.
In Eastern Province, particularly Kitui County, why the IIBRC has proposed to split Kitui Central constituency with a population of 175,633 and an area in square kilometres of 1,028.3 is any body's guess. In this county, the constituency that should have been given first priority is Mwingi North which has a population of 204,932 and covers a land mass of 5,777.8 square kilometres.
Still in lower Eastern, nobody knows why populous constituencies such as Kangundo with a population of 219,103 and Makueni (243,219) were not considered for curving out new constituencies and in particular Makueni with a land mass of 2,010.1 square kilometres.
In Central Eastern region particularly in Meru Country, nobody knows why the IIBRC did not consider for split a constituency like Ntonyiri with a population of 229,871 and a land mass of 1,313.8 square kilometres and yet constituencies with less than 200,000 population such as Alego (187,243), Kisumu Town West (139,933), Rangwe (194,408), Emuhaya (185,069), Migori (191,248), Tinderet (199,514) have been proposed for creation of new constituencies. Moreover, none of the aforementioned constituencies has bigger land mass than Ntonyiri.
Kaloleni constituency of Kilifi County in Coast Province seems to have suffered the same fate as Ntonyiri. The constituency has a total population of 252,924 and an area of 892.1 square kilometres. In fact, Kaloleni constituency is the largest rural constituency in terms of population that is not proposed for split.
While in Kwale County, Kinango constituency with a population of 209,560, and an area 4,011.7 square kilometres has not been proposed for a split.
In Central Province at least, Ol Kalou constituency in Nyandarua County should have been proposed for split as it has a total of 215,925 people and covering an area of 1,108.1 square kilometres. According to the Ligale team, only Kiambu County deserves additional constituencies.
It is not clear why the IIBRC did not consider caving new constituencies in Kericho and Bomet counties. At least Bomet with a population of 233,271, Belgut (202,591), and Kipkelion (206,590) should have been considered for split.
Other notable cases are for example why should IIBRC create two more constituencies in Langata, and Kasarani whereby the latter's population is more than the former by 170,436. Langata has a population of 355,188 while Kasarani has 525,624.
Still in the City of Nairobi, Dagoretti constituency has a population of 329,577 and it not among the constituencies earmarked for split and yet Westlands, with a population of 247,102 has been proposed for a split into two. Another question... why create two additional constituencies in Langata which has almost the same population size with Dagoretti and leave the latter intact?
Furthermore, Eldoret North Constituency has 391,655 people, more than that of Prime Minister Right Hon Raila Odinga's Langata, only one constituency is being curved out of it and same applies to Kisauni constituency in Mombasa Country has a population of 405,930.
One thing is clear; any constituency in parts of Nyanza and parts of Western with over 200,000 people has been proposed for split which is not the case for other regions particularly in Eastern, Central, Coast, Kipsigis, and Bukusuland.
While some constituencies such as Emuhaya, Vihiga, Sabatia, Alego, Kisumu Town West, Rangwe and Migori have less than 200,000 yet they are proposed for split. In essence, any constituency in parts of Nyanza with over 185,000 has been proposed for a split. If Bomachoge, which is in Kisii County with a population of 200,729, was in those other parts for Nyanza, it would have been considered for a split.
In terms of counties, Vihiga is the county with the largest number of constituencies compared to its population as it has seven and a total population of 554,622 while Bomet has three with slightly more population of 585,072. Machakos County with over one million people has seven constituencies compared with Kisumu with less a million people but with eight constituencies.
Although the IIBRC can vainly claim that it used population quota to delimitate the proposed 80 constituencies, it seems there was an invisible hand which influenced creation of additional constituencies in some regions which do not deserve given their population sizes and land mass. Since the IIBRC is an independent body, it should not be seen to leaning towards any political divide. Already, its proposal has sparked emotive reactions from Members of Parliament from Coast, Central and Eastern provinces and this tended to divide the country right in the middle.
Another critical issue emerging from the above analysis is that since there is no fairness in the distribution of the proposed new 80 constituencies across all the counties, this should not be viewed as partisan or ethnic affair. All regions, particularly Eastern, Coast, Bukusuland, Nairobi, Gusiiland and some parts of Rift Valley were treated unfairly by the Ligale team.
Gone are the days of gerrymandering. Gone are the days when the despotic split-and-control Kanu regime would create electoral units for its charlatans and sycophants.
If we make a mistake at this stage in delimitation of electoral areas, this will haunt us for the next eight-12 years as Section 89 (2) of the New Constitutions stipulates that names and boundaries of constituencies and wards shall be reviewed at an interval of not less than eight years but not more than twelve years.
Andrew Ligale and his cahoots are in breach of the constitution. Specifically, Ligale has violated Chapter 6 (73) of Katiba. By claiming he "consulted" the Prime Minister for approval to execute his mandate, he had not demonstrated respect for the people of Kenya, has not brought honour to the nation or to his office. He has openly failed to promote confidence in the integrity of the office. Therefore, he is posturing to "rule" the people of Kenya!
Chapter 7 (88) of Katiba bars a member of a Governing body of a political party from being appointed to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. In retrospect, Parliament made a huge mistake to allow Ligale as Chairman of the ODM Council of Elders to chair such a historic task.
We should have perhaps picked young non-old regime-braided professional. Isn't it a shame that Ligale's work can't measure to that of his sons - Issack Hassan and Mohammed Abdikadir who have executed their responsibilities with unique, shining exemplary dignity and diligence, in the Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Select Committee respectively. Viva young professionals!
The IIBRC should be surcharged for waste of public resources, and for subverting the letter and spirit of the Katiba. Now we know why Ligale has been defiant to the instructions of Constitutional and Justice Affairs Minister. Ligale's actions undermine national cohesion. The Impunity of yesteryears must be fought, crashed, trashed. Boldly, we must terminate the old ways.
The writer is an assistant minister for Youth and Sports Affairs and MP for Mukurweini. He co-authored this article with Kinango MP Gonzi Rai.