Freedom of Information and the Boundaries Report

Posted by on 2nd December 2010

Categories:   2012 Elections Constituency News

By Mzalendo Contributor – Moreen Majiwa (@mmajiwa)

If you believe what you read in the papers, Kenya is in a constitutional crisis.

As of Saturday 27th November 2010, neither the Commission on Revenue Allocation nor the Commission for Implementation of the Constitution had been established, the deadline is now 3 days past due. Parliament rejected the names of the nominees on Friday. The papers report that nominees were rejected for lack of regional balance, partisan politics and vested succession interests.
Meanwhile the term of the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission has expired and the constitutionally mandated Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission is yet to be formed. Kenya is currently without an Electoral or Boundaries Commission.
In the papers, there have been varying claims about the determination of boundaries – some MPs have claimed that the new boundaries are unfair, others have claimed that the constitutional formula for determination of new constituency boundaries was not followed or was followed incorrectly, while others have lauded the Commission’s work. The Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission has compiled a report that would put determination of these issues to rest however the report has not been made public.
Whilst there has been massive media coverage of the both the boundaries issue and the failure to establish to the two Commissions within the set timelines, we have no official word from the government. Consequently there is a lot we do not know.

Things we don’t know but would know if we  the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission’s boundaries report was public:
• The details of the boundaries of the new constituencies.
• Exactly how these new boundaries were arrived at.
• Whether the criteria used to delineate the boundaries of the new constituencies are constitutional

With regards to the selection of persons for the Commission on Revenue Allocation and the Commission for Implementation of the Constitution political horse-trading is to be expected, this goes on even in established democracies. However if the process for selection were completely transparent from beginning to end the public would know for sure that the selection process was fair, and the best candidates for the job were selected given the political realities of the country.  As it stands the information gap makes it impossible to determine  fact from fiction.
Article 35 (3) of the new constitution obligates the government to publish and publicise any important information affecting the nation. The boundaries report contains information that is affecting the nation. Whatever is going on with the establishment of the 2 Commissions affects the nation. So we ask – what is really going on?