Proposed boundaries could heal rifts - Daily Nation

Proposed boundaries could heal rifts

Saturday January 14 2012

By EMEKA MAYAKA GEKARA [email protected] and BILLY MUIRURI [email protected]

Long-running rivalries and suspicion among clans, political foes and neighbouring communities might be defused if the new boundaries proposed by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission are approved.

Groups that have protested against marginalisation and political dominance by bigger communities for decades might be placated with the opportunity to elect a person of their choosing to Parliament.

In addition to paying attention to population and land mass, the review appears to have separated communities with a history of conflict especially in violence-prone Rift Valley and Nairobi regions and sought to address marginalisation. (EDITORIAL: New boundaries a step into the future)

Social class

And in cities, the IEBC seems to have factored in issues of economic and social class in determination of boundaries for new constituencies.

For instance, the proposed Kibera constituency in Nairobi will be home to thousands of slum dwellers and blue-collar citizens who inhabit Sarang’ombe, Makina, Lindi and Laini Sabaa wards, and will be separated from Karen-Langata constituency where the city’s rich live.

The IEBC boundaries also propose splitting Cabinet minister Beth Mugo’s Dagoretti constituency, which she has been fighting for.

If approved, the constituency will be split into Dagoretti and Kawangware, which is bound to reduce the minister’s altercations with ODM politician John Kiarie.

Dagoretti will constitute Uthiru, Waithaka and Riruta wards, which are predominantly PNU strongholds, while Kawangware is mainly occupied by ODM supporters.
In Kasarani, the Kikuyu community is likely to have almost exclusive say in the proposed Roysambu constituency which brings together Roysambu, Kahawa West and Githurai wards.

The proposed Ruaraka constituency of assistant minister Elizabeth Ongoro is host to ODM supporters who mainly reside in Mathare North, Baba Ndogo and Utalii wards.

This means the Kikuyu community, which largely inhabits Korogocho ward, may provide the swing vote.

At the Coast, the Rabai, a Mijikenda sub-group which has been fighting against the dominance of the Giriama, may get a reprieve with the proposed Rabai constituency that has been hived off Kaloleni constituency.

Being marginalised

And in Bungoma, the Tachoni have been separated from the Bukusu with the split of Webuye to create Bokoli constituency, while the Ilchamus and Ndorobo, who have complained of being marginalised, now make up the proposed Mochongoi constituency that has been hived off Baringo Central.

However, the Ilchamus have rejected the constituency, saying IEBC should have created an electoral unit exclusively for them as ordered by the High Court two years ago.

In Luo Nyanza, the splitting of Kasipul Kabondo constituency into two may calm tensions between two clans.

“The rivalry between Jokabondo and JoKasipul has been sorted out because each group now has their own constituency,” says former MP Peter Odoyo.

The split of former Rongo constituency may also put to an end the rivalry between Cabinet minister Dalmas Otieno and his perennial nemesis Ochillo Ayacko.

In the new arrangement, Mr Otieno remains in Rongo while Mr Ayacko moves to Awendo constituency.

The proposed boundaries have also separated communities that have been at conflict especially in the run-up to elections.

For instance, the division of conflict-prone Kuresoi constituency into the north and south effectively separates the Kalenjin (in the south) and the Kikuyu and Abagusii (in the north).

The IEBC also appeared keen to stem violence in Kipkelion, which was split into east and west, as well as in Nakuru Town where Nakuru Town West constituency was created.

The split divides the Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities in the area – as does the division of Molo constituency into Molo and Njoro.

Cherangany and Kwanza constituencies were re-organised to meet the population quota spelt out in the Constitution, but residents of Cherangany have protested against the transfer of Sinyerere ward to Kwanza.

A group of 15 councillors on Thursday claimed the move was an attempt by area MP Joshua Kutuny to get rid of his opponents.

“Traditionally, Sinyerere ward determines who wins Cherangany. That is why Mr Kutuny wants it moved to Kwanza,” said councillor Peter Kaburu.

Cabinet ministers Dalmas Otieno, Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, Charity Ngilu, James Orengo, William ole Ntimama, Samuel Poghisio and Moses Wetang’ula are among politicians whose constituencies have all been split in a way that separates them from their opponents.

“I am now in Kabuchai constituency which covers Chwele and Nalondo. It is a very easy constituency for me because I can now easily come back unopposed because my opponent comes from the other side,” said Mr Wetang’ula.

He was referring to the division of Sirisia constituency, which has seen his opponent, Major John Waluke, remain in Sirisia.

The new boundaries have also given former ministers Musikari Kombo and Mukhisa Kituyi a political lifeline.

Mr Kombo now moves to the new Bokoli constituency – largely inhabited by the Bukusu sub-tribe of the Luhya – away from his opponent Alfred Sambu, who remains in Webuye, which is largely occupied by his Tachoni sub-tribe.

Dr Kituyi also moves to the newly-created Tongaren constituency, away from the current MP, Eseli Simiyu, who remains in Kimilili.