Let us adopt no-party hy­brid par­lia­men­tary sys­tem to unify na­tion

The time has now come to make rad­i­cal changes to our sys­tem of gover­nance based on fair play and in­clu­siv­ity for the en­tire coun­try rather than loosely keep talk­ing of civil dis­obe­di­ence and se­ces­sion plans, writes Hind­pal S. Jab­bali

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - SPECIAL REPORT -

MPS will be demo­crat­i­cally elected as in­di­vid­u­als by their con­stituen­cies, with­out any party loy­ment to boost ef­fi­ciency in schools

Since Kenya’s in­de­pen­dence in 1963, we have tried al­most all demo­cratic sys­tems of gover­nance. We have tried a twoparty sys­tem, a one-party sys­tem with au­to­cratic lead­er­ship, a mul­ti­party sys­tem and a grand coali­tion. Now, it is back to a two-party sys­tem based on tribal group­ings and tyranny of num­bers.

The na­tion seems di­vided into two be­cause of deep-rooted tribal af­fil­i­a­tions, a per­son­al­ity cult and a win­ner-takes-all men­tal­ity with ex­clu­siv­ity of the Op­po­si­tion.

Since 1992, when we adopted the mul­ti­party sys­tem, six out of seven pres­i­den­tial elec­tions have been dis­puted on grounds of elec­toral fraud. The one held on Au­gust 8 was nul­li­fied through a pe­ti­tion. As a re­sult, a re­peat pres­i­den­tial elec­tion was held on Oc­to­ber 26 but op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga with­drew from the race.

In the past 54 years since in­de­pen­dence, we have elected just four pres­i­dents from only two tribes with enor­mous power and wealth cen­tred on the pres­i­dency. All the rul­ing par­ties and their se­nior mem­bers pri­mar­ily have one motto: “It is our right to eat.”

Even lead­ers in op­po­si­tion par­ties are not much dif­fer­ent. They are also tied to a few per­son­al­i­ties and tribal chiefs, wait­ing for “their turn to eat” if elected, with very lit­tle ide­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences from the rul­ing par­ties of which they were once se­nior mem­bers.

Cor­rup­tion has now reached epi­demic pro­por­tions and seems to have been in­sti­tu­tion­alised across the board, both in the pub­lic as well as the pri­vate sec­tor. We have cre­ated an un­equal so­ci­ety of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ with the top 0.5 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion hav­ing more wealth than the bot­tom 50 per cent. The av­er­age GDP growth for the past 10 years since Vi­sion 2030 was launched has re­mained around 5 per cent. Due to our cul­ture of de­pen­dency on out­siders and our ap­petite for for­eign goods, we have cre­ated an im­port- ori­ented con­sumer econ­omy, with our im­port bill al­most three times that of our ex­ports.

The time has now come to make rad­i­cal changes to our sys­tem of gover­nance based on fair play and in­clu­siv­ity for the en­tire coun­try rather than loosely keep talk­ing of civil dis­obe­di­ence, se­ces­sion plans, and drum­ming up war cries.

Hav­ing tried al­most all demo­cratic sys­tems of gover­nance, maybe we should try a home-grown no-party hy­brid par­lia­men­tary sys­tem, where peo­ple will elect lead­ers of their choice, not im­posed upon them by tribal chiefs or party hawks.

In this sys­tem, MPS will be demo­crat­i­cally elected as in­di­vid­u­als by their con­stituen­cies, with­out any party af­fil­i­a­tions and with­out the pa­tron­age of any god­fa­thers and fu­ture pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates.

The 290 MPS will then group them­selves into nine prov­inces (the old eight and Rift Val­ley split into two), with 12 MPS nom­i­nated from each of the nine prov­inces, to form an elec­toral col­lege of 108 MPS.

The top-rank­ing in­di­vid­ual from each prov­ince will be­come the leader of that prov­ince. The elec­toral col­lege will then elect the pres­i­dent and his deputy, and maybe a prime min­is­ter and his deputy, from the top nine provin­cial lead­ers, through a se­cret elec­tronic bal­lot­ing sys­tem based on rank­ing or­der for each po­si­tion.


This sys­tem will work broadly on the fol­low­ing lines, and shown in the ac­com­pa­ny­ing chart.

1. Each of the cur­rent 290 con­stituen­cies will elect their own MPS through a nor­mal demo­cratic elec­tion process as ‘in­de­pen­dents’ with­out any party af­fil­i­a­tions or pa­tron­age of any god­fa­ther. Their elec­tion will be solely based on their past track record and their vi­sion for the fu­ture. Any num­ber of can­di­dates can, of course, vie for the seat in each con­stituency. How­ever, only those who garner over 25 per cent of votes cast in each con­stituency will be el­i­gi­ble for State fund­ing.

2. Once elected, all the MPS will be grouped into the nine prov­inces (the old eight, plus the Rift Val­ley Prov­ince, split into North and South, be­cause of its enor­mous size). Each prov­ince will be num­bered A, B, C, to I.

3. To avoid the ‘tyranny of num­bers’, each provin­cial group (for

ex­am­ple 44 in for­mer East­ern Prov­ince and 18 in for­mer North East­ern Prov­ince) will then nom­i­nate only 12 MPS from its area, plac­ing the top four in a rank­ing or­der 1, 2, 3, 4 and the other eight in any or­der.

The top-rank­ing MP will be­come the leader of the prov­ince and po­ten­tial can­di­date for the top po­si­tions, in­clud­ing the pres­i­dency.

The nom­i­na­tion of the 12 MPS in each prov­ince should also en­sure that at least one is se­lected from each county (ex­cept Nairobi, which has 17 con­stituen­cies) and that at least one woman mem­ber is among the top four.

4. All the 12 nom­i­nated MPS in each of the nine prov­inces, 108 in to­tal, be­come part of the elec­toral col­lege. They will then sit as a group to elect for the four slots from among the top nine provin­cial lead­ers in a rank­ing or­der 1, 2, 3 and 4 as shown in row 1 in the chart. No. 1 may be des­ig­nated as the pres­i­dent-elect, No. 2: prime min­is­ter, No. 3: deputy pres­i­dent and No. 4: deputy PM. All of them will have dis­tinct roles to play, in­clud­ing su­per­vi­sion of the de­volved gov­ern­ment spread across all the prov­inces.

5. Once the slots for these top four lead­ers are filled, then the other po­si­tions of se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cers (for ex­am­ple, Cab­i­net min­is­ters, speak­ers and leader of gov­ern­ment busi­ness) will be eq­ui­tably filled from the re­main­ing 32 MPS in the top four rows of the elec­toral col­lege, in pro­por­tion to their nu­mer­i­cal strength in Par­lia­ment.

There will be no slot for the leader of op­po­si­tion. This slot will be taken up by the PM’S of­fice or such other se­nior of­fi­cer mu­tu­ally agreed on. Sim­i­larly, the Cab­i­net min­is­ters will re­place the Cab­i­net Sec­re­taries.

6. The nine gov­er­nors and their deputies will be demo­crat­i­cally elected sep­a­rately for each prov­ince, the same way as the elec­tion of MPS. The provin­cial MCAS will also be elected for each prov­ince. All the coun­ties will be ad­min­is­tered by a deputy gov­er­nor, re­port­ing to their re­spec­tive gov­er­nors.

7. All the nine provin­cial gov­er­nors may be su­per­vised by the of­fice of the PM, as part of the de­volved gov­ern­ment

8. There will be no need for a separate Se­nate, as there are now only nine, and not 47, gov­er­nors.

And they will be su­per­vised by the PM’S of­fice.

The above struc­ture of a noparty hy­brid par­lia­men­tary sys­tem of gov­ern­ment, with the pres­i­dent and maybe a PM elected by Par­lia­ment, is a sug­gested al­ter­na­tive. For it to be given a con­crete shape and struc­ture, it will re­quire a lot of good­will and soul-search­ing by the ex­ist­ing rul­ing and op­po­si­tion par­ties.

It will also need de­tailed dis­cus­sions and pub­lic de­bate by var­i­ous stake­hold­ers and con­sti­tu­tional ex­perts. There is no doubt that the pro­posed sys­tem, even in a mod­i­fied form, has a far greater po­ten­tial of uni­fy­ing the coun­try; have full rep­re­sen­ta­tion of all the coun­ties and tribes in run­ning the gov­ern­ment; and chang­ing the cul­ture of pa­tro­n­is­ing and rent-seek­ing. It will also re­duce ram­pant cor­rup­tion, and lead to shar­ing of the na­tional cake eq­ui­tably and a bal­anced growth in all sec­tors of econ­omy.

Un­til such time that a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion is found through a ref­er­en­dum and change of the Con­sti­tu­tion, the pro­posed struc­ture of eq­ui­table dis­tri­bu­tion of Cab­i­net and se­nior po­si­tions based on the size and party rep­re­sen­ta­tion in each prov­ince can be tem­po­rar­ily used through con­struc­tive di­a­logue be­tween Ju­bilee and the Na­tional Su­per Al­liance to re­solve the cur­rent im­passe.

Hind­pal S. Jab­bal is for­mer chair­man of En­ergy Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion and son of Late Makhan Singh, the ‘For­got­ten Hero’ of Kenya’s pre-in­de­pen­dence era. Email: hs­jab­bal@hot­mail.com


Mem­bers of the Na­tional Assem­bly and the Se­nate, when they were ad­dressed by Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta dur­ing the of­fi­cial open­ing of the 12th Par­lia­ment on Septem­ber 12.

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