New bill to cut counties from 47 to 25
A Bill seeking to reduce the number of the counties and alter the membership of the Senate has been published.
The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2015 wants the number of counties reduced to 25 (down from 47) from where two senators each will be elected.
The Bill, sponsored by Mwingi Central MP Joe Mutambu, proposes to limit the application of the two-thirds gender principle to appointive offices only, scrap the 47 woman representative seats and cap the number of members in constitutional commissions to three.
The MP further wants the traditional 12 seats reserved for nomination by political parties scrapped.
Instead, Mutambu proposes that all the 47 counties should be compressed into 25 through mergers. For example, he proposes that the Mombasa and Kwale counties should be merged into one county, the Kilifi and Taita Taveta counties into one and Tana River and Lamu too.
“We need to hold a referendum and remove most of those counties and rename them. We should have governors in charge of say Lower Eastern, Upper Eastern, Nairobi, Western and Central State,” Mutambu said, adding, “it is too expensive to run the 48 governments [the counties and the national].”
He said the trimming of the numbers of MPs and devolved units is crucial in preventing an economic crisis, especially one involving the huge wage bill.
The Bill also wants the 20 nominated senators and all the nominated MCAs done away with as part of the effort to reduce public recurrent expenditure.
The proposal contained in the Bill is likely to meet stiff opposition from women MPs and pro-women lobbyists, as they have insisted on the full implementation of Article 81 (b) of the constitution.
This article provides that not more than two-thirds of the members of the elective public bodies shall be of the same gender.
It is this article that Mutambu wants amended, so that its application is limited to appointive offices only.
He wants Article 81 (b) amended by deleting the words “elective or” and substituting them with “appointive”.
The Bill further proposes that Article 27 (8) in the Bill of Rights be amended to delete the requirement that the state should take legislative measures to ensure that neither gender has two-thirds representation in elective bodies.
Instead, the MP is proposing an amendment to Article 98 (a), where 50 new MPs will be elected in place of the scrapped seats.
The 50 elected MPs, one woman and one man, will be elected by registered voters in each county constituting a single-member constituency.
The 50 MPs will sit in the Senate, bringing the total number of senators to 75.
Mutambu also wants Article 250 amended to limit the number of membership of constitutional commissions to just three from nine.