By Hon Kabando wa Kabando and Hon Clement Wambugu
Interim Independent Boundary Review Commission (IIBRC) list of the new proposed constituencies as was published by the Newspapers on Wednesday the 17th November 2010 was an improvement to the version published on Monday the 15th November 2010. In general, it seems the commission was trying to make sure that every county gets at least one constituency, which should not be the case because more populous counties will suffer. Secondly, apart from a few cases, every constituency with over 200,000 inhabitants has been proposed for a split. However, a close scrutiny of the distribution of the proposed 80 new constituencies reveals some open biasness.
First and foremost in Kitui County, why IIBRC has proposed to split Kitui Central constituency with a population of 175,633 and an area in square kilometers of 979 is any body’s guess and not populous Makueni constituency with a population of 243,219 and a land mass of 2,010.1 square kilometers. Why Not Kiharu with a population of 181,076? It is noteworthy that Kieni constituency which is 52% of the Nyeri County landmass – 1556 square kilometers- a population of 175,812 and rising new settlements did not benefit. Why? And not Kitui South with a population 166,050 and land area of 12,544 square kilometers? Is this fair?
In Meru Country, nobody knows why the Commission did not consider splitting like Ntonyiri (Igembe North) constituency with a population of 229,871 and a land mass of 1,313.8 square kilometers and yet constituencies with less than 200,000 population such as Rangwe (194,408), Emuhaya (185,069), Migori (191,248) and Tinderet (199,514) have been proposed for creation of new constituencies. Moreover, none of the aforementioned constituencies has bigger land mass than Ntonyiri.
While in Kwale County, Kinango constituency with a population of 209,560, and an area 4,011.7 square kilometers has not been proposed for split either. While in Kirinyaga County at least Mwea Constituency should have been considered as its total population as per 2009 Census was 190,512 and an area of 542.6 square kilometers since constituencies in some parts of Nyanza with less than that population size have been ear-marked for split.
In the City of Nairobi, why should the Commission treat Langata and Kasarani equally by giving each two constituencies and yet Kasarani’s population is more than that of Langata by 170,436 people? Kasarani, which is the second most populous constituency in Kenya from Embakasi, has a population of 525,624 compared to Langata’s 355,188. The question that lingers in the minds of most Kenyans is: why give them equal treatment?
And worse of all, 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. Furthermore, is also more populated than Starehe constituency, with a population of 274,607 and an area of 10.7 square kilometers and yet Mathare is being proposed as a new constituency to be curved out of Starehe constituency.
The big question is: why create two additional constituencies in Langata with almost the same population size with Dagoretti and leave the latter intact? Furthermore, though Eldoret North Constituency has 391,655 population, more than that of Langata only one constituency is being created from it. The same argument can be extended to other constituencies with more population than Langata and were allocated only one constituency. Three notable examples are Kisauni in Mombasa Country with a population of 405,930, Naivasha in Nakuru County with a population of 376,243 and a geographical coverage of 3,034.6 square kilometers, Saboti in Trans Nzoia County with 387,366 people. From the above analysis, one thing is clear; every constituency in some parts of Nyanza and some parts of Western with over 200,000 people has been proposed for split which is not the case for other regions particularly in Eastern, Coast and Gusiiland. In essence, any constituency in some parts of Nyanza with over 190,000 people has been prop
osed for a split, which is not the same treatment accorded to populous constituencies Kisii County particularly Bobasi and Kitutu Masaba, with population sizes of 190,074 and 199,136 respectively. This is a clear indication that was no consistency in application of the major population quota criteria as a basis of allocating the proposed 80 constituencies.
Anyone should therefore be challenged for advancing flimsy arguments that IIBRC proposal was “not expected please everybody” while it is too obvious for even a pedestrian to see the invisible hand in the decision arrived by a faction of Ligale led team. IIBRC being an independent commission should not be seen to be leaning towards any political divide.
Another critical issue emerging from the distribution of the proposed 80 additional constituencies is the rebalancing as per population size. This mostly applies to newly created constituencies particularly in Nairobi. For example, the newly proposed Nairobi West Constituency may borrow some wards from Makadara, which is intact. However, this criterion should not be applied selectively and seems to be what was done in Meru County to deny one extra constituency which is proposed to be named Igembe Central and which lies between Igembe North (formerly Ntonyiri) and Igembe South. If such criterion is to be adopted, it must be applied across the board. For example, a new constituency can be created between Malava and Lugari, both populous constituencies in Kakamega County.
If we make a mistake at this stage in delimitation of electoral areas, this will haunt us for the next 8-12 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.
The new Katiba letter and spirit are not optional applications, but pure scientific obligations, mandatory for compliance. The Ligale propositions aren’t in agreement with the new dispensation. If we grandstand and deflate the Katiba requirements, then an ominous cloud will hover over the 10th Parliament. Justice is indivisible.