sliced thin

Kenya: MPs push for 11 new counties to fight political marginalisation

By Victor Abuso

Posted on September 12, 2023 09:04

Kenyan legislators inside Parliament.(Reuters/Monicah Mwangi)
Kenyan legislators inside Parliament.(Reuters/Monicah Mwangi)

More than 20 Members of Parliament are pushing for the creation of 11 new counties to address what they describe as critical constitutional matters.

The MPs have written a joint memorandum presented to the National Dialogue Committee.

They say they want their proposals considered, including increasing the number of counties to 58, to bring an end to social and political marginalisation for their people.

“The existing county boundaries contribute to unequal access to representation and resources. This is making our people poor,” the MPs say in their memorandum.

Tiaty MP William Kamket wants to create East Pokot County from the larger Baringo County.

“We want the right to manage our own affairs, and further the interests of minorities and marginalized,” says Kamket, who is leading the charge for the creation of new counties.

County counting

Ijara MP Abdi Ali Abdi, is also pushing for his constituency to become among the new counties. He says his people don’t feel well represented within Garissa County, which borders Somalia.

“We want to benefit from resources allocated. We want to be equal like the rest,” he said.

Sam Awusa is a farmer residing in Kitale town. He tells The Africa Report that he supports the creation of more counties because he feels ignored by neighbouring Bungoma and Trans Nzoia when seeking county government services.

“I’m eagerly waiting for the creation of Mt Elgon County. I want to feel represented,” he says.

Other new counties the MPs want to create include Kuria, Teso, Mount Elgon, East Pokot, Mwingi, Gucha, Suba, Ijara, Nakuru West, Wajir South and Nyambene. The lawmakers want the decision to create the new counties to be made by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Too many counties

However, the proposal is facing criticism, with calls for its rejection.

Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana wants the proposal opposed by the dialogue team.

He says if it comes up for a vote in the Senate, he will vote against it because it will weaken the devolved governments.

“If such a proposal is allowed, it will lead to more leaders seeking more sub-divisions of their counties,” he says.

Senator Ledama Olekina says the current number of counties is too many and need to be reduced.

“47 counties is more than we need! Let us now focus on developing them,” says Olekina.

Political activist and lawyer Miguna Miguna echoes these sentiments. “Kenya doesn’t need more than eight counties. Kenyans must unite and defeat that nonsensical idea,” he said on his X account.

The proposal would also require a lot more expenditure as it would include 11 new county administrations, 11 senators, and 11 women representatives.

While MPs decry limited resources for large counties, creating new counties would further stretch government funding.

Wrong way to expand

Although the MPs have a right to seek for more counties, this can only be done through an independent commission that must be formed by Parliament, constitutional expert Bobby Mkangi tells The Africa Report.

“The electoral commission has no mandate to relook at the county boundaries. What the MPs are asking for is procedurally unconditional, “ says Mkangi, who served as a commissioner in the nine-member Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review  that led to the 2010 constitution.

According to Article 188 of the constitution, the boundaries of a county may be altered only by a resolution recommended by an independent commission set up for that purpose by Parliament and must get at least two-thirds of support of members of the National Assembly and the Senate.

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