Sabaot seek creation of Mt Elgon County as PPLC calls for review of parties fund

3 min

Sabaot community members speak after presenting a memorandum to the National Dialogue Committee at the Bomas of Kenya on September 25, 2023. [Samson Wire, Standard]

The Sabaot community, residing on the picturesque slopes of Mount Elgon lying in Trans-Nzoia and Bungoma counties, has presented a memorandum to the National Dialogue Committee seeking the creation of a new county.

The Trans Nzoia Sabaot Professional Association, on behalf of the Sabaot community, proposes an amendment to the Constitution to create Mt Elgon County, that would comprise Mt Elgon, Saboti, and Endebess constituencies. Alternatively, they suggest retaining the Mt Elgon constituency as an independent county. They argue that this addresses marginalisation and brings services closer to the people.

Furthermore, the association advocates for a review of county boundaries, saying that the current boundaries were based on colonial decisions that perpetuated their marginalisation.

The association told the committee the myriad of challenges endured by the Sabaot leading to marginalization, limited representation and economic underdevelopment. Despite their population size, they contend they remain underrepresented in high and low-level appointments in counties, an issue that has persisted for years. Resource allocation and distribution, they claim, have also not favoured the regions predominantly inhabited by the Sabaot.

“Out of the 10 County Executive Committee members (CECs) in the county, we only have one CEC from Mt Elgon. When you come to the county assembly, we have 126 workers and only 20 come from the Sabaot community. The workers in the executive are over 7,000 and the Sabaot make less than 20 per cent,” said MCA Jane Chebet.

The Political Parties Liaison Committee (PPLC) also appeared before the committee yesterday and submitted a proposal for the amendment of the Political Parties Act on distribution of the political parties fund.

PPLC Vice Chairperson Chris Kilonzo said the proposed amendments, outlined in the Political Parties Act (Amendment) Bill 2023, seek to address issues related to the distribution of the Political Parties Fund and establish an independent fund for the Political Parties Liaison Committee.

PPLC primarily serves as a platform for constructive dialogue between the Office of the Registrar, the Electoral Commission, and registered political parties in Kenya.

Speaking for PPLC, Benedict Wachira, the Secretary General of the Communist Party of Kenya and a PPLC member called for a return of the 15 per cent allocation to all fully registered political parties that participated in the previous election. Under the new provisions, 60 per cent of the fund will be allocated proportionately based on the total number of votes secured by each political party in the previous general election.

The amendment also introduces provisions for the distribution of funds based on the number of candidates from special interest groups elected in the preceding General Election and the total number of representatives from each political party elected in the same election. Furthermore, a portion of the Fund, five per cent, will be reserved for administrative expenses.

“The PPLC does not have strength because it is not funded by the exchequer,” said Wachira,

Under the current provisions of the Political Parties Act of 2011, a political party is ineligible for funding unless it manages to secure a minimum of five per cent of the total votes in the preceding General Election.

Another crucial aspect of the proposed amendment is the establishment of the Political Parties Liaison Committee Fund. This fund will consist of monies allocated by Parliament, grants, gifts, donations, or other endowments. It will be administered by the Steering Committee of the PPLC and will cover expenses such as salaries, allowances, and other remuneration for employees of the committee, among additional operational costs.

In its memorandum of objects and reasons, the amendment Bill emphasizes the importance of promoting democracy, equity, equality, and non-discrimination in Kenya’s political landscape. It seeks to ensure that the distribution of the Political Parties Fund respects and recognizes every vote cast in the general elections. The Bill also aims to establish a more transparent and accountable framework for allocating funds to political parties.

Presenting their memorandum before the committee, the Inter-religious Council proposed that the role of boundary review should be separated from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to enhance transparency and impartiality of the process.

Secondly, they recommended that the Supreme Court consider presidential election cases within 21 days, extending the current timeline of 14 days.

Lastly, they proposed that Members of Parliament who defect from a political party should seek a fresh mandate. These proposals highlight the ongoing efforts to reform Kenya’s electoral and political systems for greater fairness and effectiveness.

The committee will remain open to receiving memoranda from stakeholders throughout the week.

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