Form

 

As we have seen, political representation in Kenya exists in two forms, namely, geographical and virtual forms of representation. Under the geographical form, the number of constituencies were increased from 210 to 290 for the 2013 General Elections:

89. (1) There shall be two hundred and ninety constituencies for the purposes of the election of the members of the National Assembly ........

On March the 7th 2012, Kenya's electoral body, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) published a list of the 290 geographical political boundaries or Constituencies for the 2013 General Elections under the Constitution of Kenya 2010. This was the culmination of a drawn out and comprehensive exercise in which (among other demographic data collection activities), the Commission engaged in stakeholder discussions while going around the Counties collecting public views on representation.  Accordingly, the IEBC reported that, "the process of boundaries delimitation requires detailed analysis of population, geographical features and urban centres, community of interest, historical, economic and cultural ties and means of communication. In undertaking the process, the Commission employed statistical and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) modeling to come up with proposals for resolving the issues arising out of the First Review (by the IIRBC). This process involved collection and analysis of the 2009 Kenya National Population and Housing Census, geographical details from the Survey of Kenya, Kenya Forestry Services, Kenya Wildlife Service, Water Resources Management Authority, Kenya Roads Board, Communication Commission of Kenya and other Government Departments." (IEBC, 2012)

Not withstanding the tremendous efforts of the IEBC in the exercise of delineation, some (132 in total) of these Constituency boundaries were subsequently contested in Court:

89. (10) A person may apply to the High Court for review of a decision of the Commission made under this Article.
(11) An application for the review of a decision made under this Article shall be filed within thirty days of the publication of the decision in the Gazette and shall be heard and determined within three months of the date on which it is filed.

The High Court ruled in July 2012, that the IEBC followed the law in its work of marking out the constituency boundaries. Nevertheless, the Court however, did make quite a few changes to some of the Ward names and boundaries that were contested before it.

A year later, however, on the 5th of July 2013, the Court of Appeal did rule in favour of an appeal lodged by some minority communities in Mandera County who on their part, when before the High Court, had accused the IEBC of, inter alia, failing to provide for their representation in a region dominated by much larger communities - this, in spite of the fact that the Commission had created new Wards in the County prior to the General Elections. These minorities collectively known as 'the corner tribes' had demanded Ward boundaries that effectively marked out their domicile and hence guaranteed their fair representation within the local County Assembly, as well as a full constituency of their own for representation in the National Assembly. This (chastising) ruling by the Court of Appeal set an important precedent meant to ensure that in the next boundary review, the IEBC must fully accommodate the interests of such minorities:

89(7) In reviewing constituency and ward boundaries the Commission shall–– (a) consult all interested parties; ........

 

Geographical Constituencies created for the 2013 Elections

 

During the review of boundaries and names, the IEBC went beyond creating 80 new Constituencies for the 2013 General Elections, by renaming approximately 32 Constituencies in a bid to realign their names with what it considered to be the true identity of the people within and around the affected areas. Excerpts

89. (2) The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission shall review the names ....... of constituencies .......
(5) ....... to take account of— (b) community of interest, historical, economic and cultural ties; .......
(8) If necessary, the Commission shall alter the names and boundaries of constituencies .......

Some of the new names included Tiaty (formerly Baringo East) in Baringo County, and Suba North (formerly Mbita) in Homa Bay County.

Let us look again at the key indicators considered in the delineation of the 290 Constituencies of Kenya as captured in sub-article 89 (5):

(5) The boundaries of each constituency shall be such that the number of inhabitants in the constituency ....... may be greater or lesser than the population quota in the manner mentioned in clause (6) to take account of— (a) geographical features and urban centres; (b) community of interest, historical, economic and cultural ties; and (c) means of communication.

The final outcomes from this review of boundaries (as guided by clause (5)), was such that on one end of the quota spectrum, cities and other select areas that have higher densities of inhabitants were allowed higher population quotas, while on the opposite end, sparsely populated areas got away with lower quotas, all in the name of Sub-Article (6):

(6) The number of inhabitants of a constituency or ward may be greater or lesser than the population quota by a margin of not more than— (a) forty per cent for cities and sparsely populated areas; and (b) thirty per cent for the other areas.

The 3 terms 'other areas', sparsely populated' and 'cities' in clause (6) above have not been clearly demarcated by the New Constitution, perhaps because of the complexity of attempting to do so. Indeed, a quick look at the three tables below not only demonstrates glaring variations amongst Constituencies within the same classification, but also wide overlaps across Constituencies in different classifications:

 

Table 4.1 Variations in key Delimitation Indicators of Constituencies Classified as 'Sparsely Populated'

 

Indicator
Leading Constituency
(County)
Size
Trailing Constituency
(County)
Size
Population
Mandera South (Mandera) 247,619 Lamu East (Lamu) 18,884
Area (sq. km.)
Isiolo South (Isiolo) 43,118 Kajiado North (Kajiado) 148
Density (persons 
per sq. km.)
Kajiado North (Kajiado) 1,323 Isiolo South (Isiolo) 0.23

 

Table 4.2 Variations in key Delimitation Indicators of Constituencies Classified as 'Cities'

 

Indicator
Leading Constituency
(County)
Size
Trailing Constituency
(County)
Size
Population
Kamukunji (Nairobi) 211,991 Makadara (Nairobi) 160,434
Area (sq. km.)
Langata (Nairobi) 196.80 Kamukunji (Nairobi) 8.80
Density (persons 
per sq. km.)
Kamukunji (Nairobi) 24,090 Langata (Nairobi) 896

 

Table 4.3 Variations in key Delimitation Indicators of Constituencies Classified as 'Other Areas'

 

Indicator
Leading Constituency
(County)
Size
Trailing Constituency
(County)
Size
Population Makueni (Makueni) 243,219 Wundanyi (Taita/Taveta) 56,021
Area (sq. km.) Kilgoris (Narok) 2,526.00 Mathare (Nairobi) 3.00

Density (persons 

per sq. km.)

Mathare (Nairobi) 64,472 Kilgoris (Narok) 71

 

Many reasons have been offered to explain these inconsistencies. Some simple, some not so simple. For example, out of the 210 Constituencies of old, 27 of them enjoyed 'protected status' and their boundaries were not affected by the review. Sixth Schedule:

27. (4) The Boundaries Commission shall ensure that the first review of constituencies undertaken in terms of this Constitution shall not result in the loss of a constituency existing on the effective date.

These 27 Constituencies have contributed their fair share of the inequalities of representation that exist even after the 2013 General Elections. Another obvious reason has to do with the fact that the delineation of Constituency boundaries had to confine itself within the new 47 Counties, which were themselves based largely on a historical fact of Districts (rather than on modern, scientific and democratic considerations) under the former Provincial Administration. Add to the fact that much of the country has very uneven population densities (due to terrain, climate, soil, and history, etc) and the reader can begin to appreciate the facts and realities informing the short to medium-term challenges of inequalities in national representation that Kenyans must face. 

NB. A localised picture of the geography and the numbers that informed the delineation of each of the 290 Constituencies and the 1,450 Wards can be found under the respective County in the 47 Counties of 2010 discussion. In that discussion, we've clustered the Constituencies and Wards within their respective Counties to aid in clarity, coherence, context and most importantly, for comparison. The reader will also notice the same inequalities playing out at the local level in which Constituencies within the same County have widely varying populations, area, and density. The end result will of course be unequal representation at the local County Assembly, power struggles, and perhaps inevitably, challenges in local resource mobilisation and allocation. To illustrate this point let us consider Baringo County and examine its key indicators of delineation:

 

Table 4.4 IEBC's Classification of Constituencies in Baringo County

 

Constituency
Area in sq. km
Population
Density per sq. km.
--Classification--
Baringo Central
       588.52 81,480     138
Other Areas
Baringo North
     1,703.50 93,789      55
Sparsely Populated
Baringo South
     1,985.11            80,871 41
Sparsely Populated
Eldama Ravine
       953.82 105,273     110
Other Areas
Mogotio*
     1,303.87 60,959      46
Sparsely Populated
Tiaty
     4,540.48          133,189           29
Sparsely Populated
Total: 6 11,075.30 555,561  
 

 

It is not hard to imagine the kind of challenges that the County will grapple with from the word go seeing that there are all kinds of inequalities amongst the 6 Constituencies.

 

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