Next Story
You are here  » Home   » Opinion

Kenya headed for another referendum? No, I don’t think so

By Mark Bichachi | Published Thu, May 17th 2018 at 00:00, Updated May 16th 2018 at 21:21 GMT +3
It's not likely that Kenya is headed for another referendum. [Photo: Courtesy]

Someone must tell the fellows who are calling for a referendum in this country to think again. The path they have taken is long and their goals are far too trivial for the amount of pain and time they will spend trying to get there.

Here is what I mean - for a referendum to take place, we need at least five of six years to get to that point. Let us not forget that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is a lame duck without commissioners.

That issue alone means that a referendum would be further delayed, and that is the simple truth.

To compound the matter, Parliament is yet to pass the necessary laws to create a path for a referendum. And given that there seems to be a split mind on this referendum, then it is clear to me that the hurdles before those desiring a referendum are quite immense.

These hurdles can be overcome, but then the reward is too small.

After all that, the result cannot surely be the addition of three slots - for a prime minister and two deputies - and more regional governments similar to the provincial administration.

Why do we keep thinking the more people with large motorcades in the country, the more represented we are? Let us not forget that we all have six people representing us at any given time.

If six aren't enough, then even if poor Lazarus were to rise from the dead and warn us, we would still be headed to the fires of hell while we are here on earth. This is because such a system would be one meant for the 'tumbocracy' and the kleptocracy we currently enjoy. Imagine adding 17 mini-presidents; if that isn't hell I don't know what is.

If all that is needed is space for those who lose elections, then the answer is simple - they should nominate themselves to Parliament as they run. If they can put their relatives in the East African Legislative Assembly, they can nominate themselves to Parliament.

They can become leaders of minority and whips and save us the drama of finding them jobs. This is the path of least resistance; it just requires the swallowing of egos.

Second, on the prime minister debate, they already had an answer; they just need to ask the Executive to create the positions of Chief Cabinet Secretary the same way it created Chief Administrative Secretary positions.

Tough questions

The questions being asked now are therefore trivial. The Orange Democratic Movement party needs to push tough questions. One such question is; why do we need a senate? Should Senate be dissolved for the simple reason that its tasks can be carried out by National Assembly?

The other question is, instead of a woman representative, why don’t we simply vote for a man and woman at constituency level and thus achieve fifty per cent representation every time?

Let us also ask whether funds should be distributed per capita in counties. Because a Kenyan in Mandera receives three to four times more money from Government than one in Migori or Uasin Gishu.

This disparity may make sense now as we try to make Kenya a more equal society, but it will not hold water much longer. These same questions affect our current constituencies, which are fixed and as such there is under-representation among the highly populated ones and over-representation in sparsely populated constituencies.

Swiss citizen

The Swiss don't waste their referenda on the mundane. Two years ago they held a referendum on whether every Swiss citizen should receive a monthly income from the government in what is called Universal Basic Income.

This is a revolutionary idea that would end poverty as we know it. It is the kind of idea that needs a referendum, not the idea of feeding a few politicians whose hunger for power and money seems to be a bottomless pit.

A leaner government means there are more resources for the public and that is what Kenya needs. Let us frame the right referendum questions - the first being how many political positions can we scrap, not how many more we can add.

 

Mr Bichachi is a communication consultant; [email protected]

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Standardmedia.co.ke


Would you like to get published on Standard Media websites? You can now email us breaking news, story ideas, human interest articles or interesting videos on: [email protected]

RECOMMENDED