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Majimbo system best for Kenya’s unity, growth — Coast governors

Two Coast governors are in a fresh push for a federal system of government commonly known as majimbo.

The idea resonates with residents, who, historically, have demanded introduction of the system to spur even growth across the country.

In their separate proposals to the Building Bridges Initiative team, Kilifis’s Amason Kingi and his Mombasa counterpart Hassan Joho said the country should adopt a three-tier system of government that comprises national, federal and county governments.

The handshake team was in Kilifi on Tuesday and Mombasa yesterday to collect public views.

Earlier in the year, the two had pushed to have Coast secede from Kenya. Their quest fizzled out and they now seem to have settled for ‘one Kenya’, but the kind where regions have more stake when it comes to sharing of the national cake.

“If we want to foster integration, we should do away with the current system of government,” Kingi said on Tuesday.

He wants the former provinces turned into federal governments. He blamed electoral fraud at the national level to tribalism, centralisation of most resources and the syndrome of ‘it’s our time to eat’.

“If you look at the current dispensation, when a Majikenda declares to vie for the presidency, all Mijikendas will rally behind him with a view to reaping the benefits when he is finally elected. The same applies to other tribes. We want a situation where we won’t care who will be president as long as he is a Kenyan,” Kingi said.

Read: If we fear secession, then let’s go federal, a marriage that works

He suggested that the powers of the president and allocations to the national government be reduced and more resources channelled to the regional governments. The governor proposed 80 per cent revenue allocation to the regions and 20 per cent to the national government.

He told the taskforce that the current system is a recipe for perennial post-election violence due to the powers and resources the presidency commands.

“By doing this, the presidency will be very unpleasant and no one would use billions to campaign in the whole country just to control 20 per cent of the revenue. This will be the end of post-election violence because, in Kenya, it’s only presidential elections that have issues,” he said.

He also proposed that police officers be under the regional governments, with the defence forces retained at the national level to take care of territorial boundaries.

On his part, Joho yesterday said Kenyans prefer the Bomas draft constitution, which had proposed 12 regional governments. He wants the 47 counties retained. His position on revenue allocation was, however, at variance with Kingi’s.

“There is no harm creating a third tier of government, which can be allocated 30 per cent of the national revenue, the counties remain with the 15 per cent and the national government 55 per cent,” he said at the Kenya School of Government in Mombasa.

Civil society organisations opposed the addition of another tier of government, saying it will burden the taxpayer. Led by Haki Africa, they said the current devolution has done more for areas previously marginalised. 

“Two are enough,” Haki Africa executive director Hussein Khalid said.

He instead wants the number of counties reduced to 10.

“Forty Seven counties are too much. They take a lot of wages. We only need 10 governors,” he said.

The lobby wants former Rift Valley and Eastern provinces divided into each. It suggested that the National Assembly members be reduced to a maximum of 150 from the current 349. Khalid said each of the 10 counties should have between 10 and 15 constituencies.

At the same time, Kingi, Joho and Kwale governor Salim Mvurya demanded that historical land injustices be addressed. They called for the implementation of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission report to fix the problems bedevilling Kenya.

Joho also proposed the creation of a public policy and investment commission that ensures equity and fairness of national projects and programmes.

“The commission should have the ability to stop a project, propose a project and champion fairness in national and county public investments,” he said.

He said the commission should also be able to carry out replacement economic programs where economic projects are not commensurate with the investments. 

It should also look at the pros and cons of any project before it is implemented so they are not used as political tools, the Mombasa county chief said.

Read: What system of government would be best for Kenya?

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