The Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill, 2019 set to be introduced in the Senate gives Parliament the ultimate say on the upcoming boundaries delimitation exercise.
In the far-reaching legislative proposal, MPs want the electoral agency to submit to Parliament both the draft report and the final one for scrutiny and input before publication.
This could be a drastic attempt by MPs to influence the boundaries review exercise since the electoral agency is already required under the current law to collect views from interested parties, including politicians, before writing the final report.
The proposed law now compels IEBC to include in their document to Parliament names or boundaries of constituencies; and number and names or boundaries of wards for concurrence of the House
“This Bill seeks to amend the Constitution to make it mandatory for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to submit a Report to Parliament, containing details of proposed alterations to names and boundaries of constituencies and wards,” reads the bill in part.
After IEBC submits the report to the House, Parliament then has thirty days to make recommendations on the document, the bill adds.
The current law does not sanction IEBC to table its report for concurrence by the House before gazettement but allows dissatisfied parties to seek legal redress.
In what is seen as a scheme by MPs to have a say on the sizes and names of their 290 constituencies, the bill requires IEBC to include Parliament’s recommendations in their final report.
“The Commission shall, within fourteen days of receipt of recommendations prepare and submit to Parliament the final report for approval,” adds the bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader and Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen.
MPs could use this provision to have their sway on names and sizes as well as arm-twist IEBC’s push to scrap some constituencies.
But now, the radical bill seeks to amend Article 89 of the Constitution by introducing new clauses that would drastically alter the law on boundaries review as well as clip IEBC’s powers in determining the names and sizes of constituencies and wards.
“The Commission shall publish in the Gazette, the final report as approved by Parliament within seven days of approval,” reads the Bill.
The Constitution requires that IEBC reviews the names and boundaries of constituencies at intervals of not less than eight years, and not more than twelve years.
However, any review shall be completed at least twelve months before a general election of members of Parliament.
This means that the final report by the IEBC must not be earlier than 2020, nor later than early 2024 given that the last review was held in 2012.
“If a general election is to be held within twelve months after the completion of a review by the Commission, the new boundaries shall not take effect for purposes of that election,” reads Article 89 (4) of the Constitution.
The boundaries review will affect the 290 geographical constituencies in the National Assembly and 1,450 county assembly wards.
However, the 47 counties, each of which produces a woman county member of the National Assembly, a senator the governor, will not be altered.
In a clear indication of the high stakes ahead of the boundaries review exercise, a section of politicians have vowed not to allow their constituencies or wards to be either renamed or their sizes altered.
The forthcoming boundaries review would ignite political temperatures amid IEBC’s threat to scrap some constituencies which do not meet the threshold.