Calls to reduce number of MPs in wake of fuel tax vote
Angered by the seemingly ‘don’t care’ attitude some members of Parliament exhibited during the chaotic debate and vote on the 8 percent value added tax on petroleum products on Thursday, some Kenyans now want the number of MPs reduced.
A section of Western region residents want the size of Parliament trimmed by reducing the number of constituencies during the boundary review process ahead of the national census next year and the 2022 General Election.
Speaking to Nation, the residents say the cost of representing the public coupled with the ballooning wage bill and uncontrolled wastage of public resources behind high cost of living and high taxes burdening the common man.
Mr Robert Mukhwana Juma from Webuye, who registered as an independent presidential candidate in the 2017 polls, said the proposal is long overdue.
“There is no impact felt by the electorates in the effectiveness of the legislature at the national and county levels as the lawmakers have become self-seekers. The large number of positions for elected seats and nomination slots is feeding incompetence and inefficiencies in the assemblies,” said Mr Mukhwana.
The National Assembly, on the one hand, has 290 elected members each representing part of a constituency, 47 woman representatives from each of the 47 counties and at least 12 members nominated to represent women, youth and the marginalised, adding up to 349 MPs.
On the other hand, the Senate has 47 elected representatives from each county, 16 women nominated for gender balance and four slots for the youth and disabled, adding up to 67 members.
The country has 1,450 elected ward representatives and several nominated ones.
Mr Boniface Manda, the chairman of Bunge la Haki, a civil society organisation operating in Kakamega County, said Parliament’s size is a big burden for taxpayers and has led to inefficiency, ineffectiveness and dysfunction.
“The dysfunction becomes clear from the confusion of MPs every time a matter of public concern comes to the floor of the House for deliberation. The Honourable members only become concerned with issues that touch on their salary and other funds under their control,” said Mr Manda.
Mr Manda said the wage bill is not sustainable and the government spending needs to be reduced by culling the number of MPs and scrapping off woman representative and nomination slots.
He wants the number of National Assembly members reduced to not more than 200 and senators maintained to 47 with only 13 slots reserved to ensure there is gender balance.
“Only people living with disability should be allocated slots for nomination at the three legislative assemblies: National, Senate and County Assemblies. This would help in making these critical organs more efficient,” added Mr Manda.
Mr Juma Mwangaza from Busia County says there is evident confusion ensuing in the role of the 47 woman representatives who are not just competing with their fellow MPs for space but also fighting the county leadership as they seek relevance at the grassroots.
Mr Mwangaza wants woman representative seats scrapped from the Constitution alongside those of nominated MPs and nominated ward representatives.
He also wants the number of wards reduced to 20 per county.
“We want a lean team of lawmakers who can be committed to make serious laws, approve reasonable budgets and oversee the executive with no interference,” said Mr Mwangaza.