Sharing the spoils of BBI goodies

Senate in session during the election of the Senate Deputy Speaker at the Senate chambers in Nairobi, June 2, 2020. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The proposed creation of 70 more constituencies is set to tilt the dynamics of leadership in the National Assembly.

Other than the expansion of the Legislature, the MPs will be instrumental in the election of Prime Minister and members of crucial committees.

The formation of the electoral areas will also see more money go to the counties hosting them through the National Government Constituencies Development Fund (NG-CDF) that the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2020 wants entrenched in the Constitution.

Each constituency gets more than Sh100 million as NG-CDF annually apart from the other devolved funds. The Amendment Bill also recommends the establishment of Ward Development Fund.

The larger Rift Valley which is Deputy President William Ruto’s stronghold and which already lead in number of constituencies in the country with 76, took the lion’s share of the new constituencies after it bagged 23 more.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Mt Kenya base will have 11 new constituencies, Nairobi (12) while Coast, where ODM leader Raila Odinga enjoys support, got 10.

It is, however, the few new electoral areas in Raila’s turf of Nyanza (4), Amani National Congress Musalia Mudavadi’s Western (5), Wiper Party Leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s Lower Eastern (4) and the former North Eastern (1) that has left tongues wagging.

Appease supporters

Currently, the Mt Kenya counties of Kiambu, Nyeri, Muranga, Kirinyaga, Nyandarua, Embu, Meru and Tharaka Nithi have 50 constituencies, making the region second to Rift Valley.

Nyanza has 42 constituencies, Western 33, North Eastern 18, Nairobi 17, while the upper Eastern counties of Isiolo and Marsabit which is the biggest county in Kenya, has a total of six seats.

The increase of parliamentary seats that will make the Rift Valley only one constituency shy of 100 seats is likely to appease Ruto supporters whose support for the BBI has been lukewarm, with some leaders opposing it.

The DP’s Uasin Gishu county will get 3 additional seats, neighbouring Trans Nzoia 2, Bomet 2, Nakuru 5, Kajiado 3, Narok 3, Nandi 1, West Pokot 1, Kericho 1 and Laikipia 1.

In Mt Kenya, Kiambu, where Kenyatta hails from, is to get six more elected MPs, Meru 2, while Kirinyaga, Murang’a and Embu one each.

It is in the Rift Valley and Mt Kenya region where the BBI had received little support with a sizable number of MPs coalescing around Ruto.

In Nyanza, Kisumu is to have two extra constituencies, while Siaya and Nyamira one each.

In Western, the populous Kakamega County will get two slots and Bungoma three.

Kilifi which has the highest number of registered voters at the Coast is to get four more MPs, while Mombasa and Kwale three each.

In North-Eastern, only Mandera County will get one new constituency. Nairobi County where Jubilee Party and ODM enjoy support will have 12 additional constituencies.

Political analyst and lawyer J M Waiganjo said the number of MPs was crucial following the intended return of the back and front benches in Parliament and appointment of Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretaries.

The referendum Bill opines that a PM should be an elected MP and a leader of largest party or coalition of parties.

“Within seven days of the Speaker receiving a nomination from the President, the Speaker shall call a vote in the National Assembly to confirm the appointment of the person proposed by the President,” the Bill states.

For one to be PM, he or she should garner more than half of votes of all MPs.

The Bill also vouches for Cabinet Ministers to be drawn from Parliament. The MPs play a role in vetting public office nominees.

Waiganjo said adding seats to regions which had more constituencies goes against the intentions of the BBI to ensure inclusivity.

He questioned why the Bill ignored the push for the dissolution NGCDF and the function given to counties.