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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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Inside plans in the Kenya Kwanza government to increase the Counties from 47 to 52

Kenya Kwanza government intends to amend the constitution to increase the number of counties from the current 47 to 52.

Kenya Kwanza allied MP Marwa Kitayama (Kuria East),  plans to introduce a bill to change the constitution to increase the number of counties to 52 from the current 47 capped by the constitution.

Kitayama has already written a notice to the Speaker of the National Assembly Moses Wetangula.

According to him, new counties such as Kuria County would be created from Migori County, Teso County from Busia County, East Pokot County from Baringo County, and Mount Elgon County would be created from Bungoma and Trans Nzoia Counties if the constitution was to be altered.

The MP claimed that he had so far gathered 60 signatures in favor of the proposal and that, once the Speaker approves its introduction, he will be permitted to make a statement on the floor of the House so that other members can express their opinions before harmonization and finalization of the proposal to take the opinions into account is given.

” Parliament cannot by itself collect views of the people and establish county boundaries. However, the constitution has empowered the independent and Boundaries Commission with the powers of delimitation.

That is why under the bill, clause 5 proposes that IEBC should delimit the additional counties of Kuria, YTeso, Mt Elgon, East Pokot, and Mwingi from the existing counties of Migori, Busia Bungoma, Transnzoia Baringo West Pokot, and Kitui respectively within six months of the commencement of the act,” reads the bill.

 He added, “Clause two of the Bill proposes amendments to Article 97 of the Constitution to increase the number of women elected to represent the counties in the National Assembly from 47 to 52 while Clause Three of the bill proposes amendments to Article 98 of the Constitution to increase the number of Senators from 47 to 52 cater for the proposed increase in the number of counties,” said Kitayama.

The MP claimed that the Constitution established 47 Counties, that there was no scientific basis for this number, and that these counties were simply based on the districts that existed in 1992 without accounting for other districts that the government gazetted in later years in order to improve service delivery.

Sen. Allan Chesang of Trans Nzoia described the proposed amendment as a positive one but asked Kitayama to change it so that Mount Elgon would be shifted from Bungoma to Trans Nzoia since he believed it might not be feasible to have the region as a stand-alone county.

“Instead of having Mount Elgon County, the region should be moved from Bungoma to Trans Nzoia County since the area residents have much in common with their brothers in the Rift Valley region while they are domiciled in the Western region where they are misplaced,” said Chesang.

At the same time, Tiaty MP William Kamket said that he fully supported Kitayama’s bill since it will allow the people of East Pokot to be in charge of their affairs and that he will be lobbying other legislators to support it both in the Senate and National Assembly since it meant well for the area residents.

National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed told the Standard that he will support the bill when it comes to the floor of the house to ensure that the regions get their own counties so that they can bring services closer to the people.

The MP said that the principal objective of the Bill is to amend the Constitution and increase the number of Counties from 47 to 52 which is borne from the need to strengthen the structures of devolution with the special wish to bring development and services closer to the people depending on the views he will receive from the Members and other stakeholders this number may increase.

 “Fundamentally the Bill seeks to solve the perennial ethnic antagonism and divisive elections in certain counties with Article 6(3) of the Constitution mandating State organs to ensure that there is reasonable access to its services in all parts of the Republic and as far as is appropriate to do so having regard to the nature of the services,” said Kitayama.

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