Elections in Kenya have become a curse. One year before every General Election, Kenya becomes tense, unsafe and economic activity stops. After every election, violence breaks out and lives are lost. Normalcy returns one year after elections.
In Kenya, despite all attempts made to decentralize decision making and resource allocation, there is still a strong belief that the presidency leads to an unequal allocation of resources and opportunities between ethnic communities.
In these circumstances, a winner take all political system has only sharpened the ethnic competition for the presidency as people want one of their own as president since resources go with the presidency.
To stop elections from becoming a do or die event, we must have a more inclusive political system where more communities get a chance to play a role in governing Kenya.
We should, therefore:
1. Change the nature and structure of the national executive to make it more inclusive and ensure as many Kenyan communities as possible feel part of the government by ;
i. Establishing the position of Prime Minister in the same model as used by Tanzania. He shall be appointed by the President from the Party or Coalition of parties that are a majority in the National Assembly, and if no party has a majority, the person who appears to have the support of a majority of the members of the National Assembly. He must be confirmed by the National Assembly. He may be fired by either the president through a decree or by the National Assembly through a vote of no confidence.
ii. Establishing the office of the Leader of the Opposition who will be the runner up of the presidential election. He shall become an ex-officio Member of Parliament. If the runner up forms a coalition with government, then the leader of the Opposition shall be the person who leads the coalition of parliamentary parties not represented in government. All political parties not in government shall be deemed to be in the opposition.
iii. Providing that the Cabinet shall be a mix of elected members of the National Assembly and technocrats. Where appointed, technocrats will be ex-officio members of parliament. The president shall determine the ratio of elected members and technocrats in the cabinet. When members of parliament are appointed as ministers, they will only get an extra responsibility allowance and not a second salary.
iv. Renaming the position of Cabinet Secretary back to Cabinet Minister because Kenyans have over the decades associated the word “Minister” with authority in the National Executive.
v. Where necessary, the president can appoint some members of parliament as Ministers of State to assist Cabinet Ministers in their work at the National Assembly. This assignment will not come with any additional salary. vi. Abolish the position of Chief Administrative Secretary
2. Ensure that the system of representation accords to the following principles that guarantee that Kenyans are fairly and equally represented.
a. All nominations and elections are free, fair and transparent.
b. All persons to be included in party lists must go through a system of vetting that involves the public.
c. As much as possible ensure that each vote has the same status and power.
d. Whatever changes may be made to constituencies, save the protected constituencies as they are key for representation in a sparsely populated area.
e. All nominations to parliament and county assemblies must be done in a transparent process.
3. Enhance the capacity of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries
Commission to deliver free and fair elections by;
i. Removing all current Commissioners and establishing a new
Commission for the next election.
ii. Provide that all IEBC staff serve on 3-year contracts that can be renewed only once so that every new Commission can determine its direction rather than become a captive of the IEBC Secretariat.
iii. Hire all Returning Officers through a system similar to that of hiring Commissioners.
iv. Returning officers should be contracted on a part-time basis and should not oversee more than one general election.
v. Open up qualifications for the Chairmanship of IEBC so that it is not a preserve for lawyers. A chair should be anyone with at least 15 years’ experience in a senior management level vi.
vii. Make the Chairman of IEBC the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission so that he is not undermined by the Secretary who is currently the CEO.
viii. Give the leaders of political parties a role in the recruitment of IEBC Commissioners to enhance support for the Commission from political contestants