those opposed to the creation of an unrepresentative senate have a point

The Kenyan Draft Constitution seems to have hit a snag. A section of parliamentarians are opposed to the section of the proposed constitution that gives all counties equal powers via their elected senators. I agree with them. The to-be-formed senate, as currently constituted, grants too much power to sparsely populated counties. Theoretically, this should not make any difference because people could just move to better served, over-represented counties thereby balancing everything. But we all know that this does not happen in Kenya. The country remains divided into various “ethnic homelands” that are more often than not inhabited exclusively by a single ethnic group.

I hold the opinion that part of the reason why we currently have a corrupt and unresponsive political class is that those who actually pay taxes – and therefore feel the pinch of mismanagement of public funds – are grossly under-represented. For instance, Nairobi only has eight members of parliament even though it generates a huge chunk of Kenya’s tax revenue. Let us not worsen this by creating an even more powerful senate whose members will bribe their way into office with a few bags of sugar and flour per voter and then proceed to steal millions of urban Kenyans’ hard earned cash. I am not advocating for an urban-biased senate. What I am saying is that the constitution should, at a minimum, respect the principle of equal representation. Nairobians and other Kenyan urbanites should make it clear that they are not into the idea of taxation without equal representation.

The alternative would be to have independent incorporate urban districts that elect their own governments and have greater control over the collection and expenditure of their tax revenue. I don’t particularly like this idea though because places like Suba and Maragua still need Nairobi, Eldoret, Kisumu, Nyeri,Mombasa and others, to pull them up.

That is my peni nane opinion on this.

2 thoughts on “those opposed to the creation of an unrepresentative senate have a point

  1. As I told you before, I don’t think that the level of contribution to tax revenue is in any way relative to ascribing political rights. I know very little about the political geography of Kenya and therefore defer to you in anything on that matter, but it seems that the urban residents pay more since they have more. As long as inequality persists, differences in payments will persist. If you’re worried about that, then you should support redistribution efforts to reduce poverty and not a disproportionate support for the already richer.
    Everybody feel the pinch of mismanagement of public fund, and the poor who need government support – all the more so. The people who pay taxes feel it the least.

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  2. i have no qualms with redistributive policies aimed at alleviating poverty. My concern here is over the fact that the system, as currently constituted, allows a few people to game it at the expense of everyone else. I guess the deeper problem that I am dealing with is whether representation for the rural poor should be an end in itself or whether we can find a balance between acceptable levels of representation and greater empowerment of those who pay more. May be then we can have true competition in the market place of policies and responsive governments. In any case rural Kenya will always have the last say on who becomes president. The least we could give urban tax payers is greater say in the legislature.

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