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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pros And Cons Of Majimbo in Kenya


Majimbo may cause tensions between tribes
PNU are right when they suggest that devolution may cause tensions in certain parts of the country. The community that will be worst hit will be the Kikuyu who have invested heavily in almost every corner of the country which is a good thing. In some areas there has been resentment towards them and the re-introduction of Majimboism may affect a few of them. However it is NOT true that the problem will be rampant all over the country. And besides the constitution clearly protects every Kenyan wherever in the country they may wish to settle.

Will weaken the Central government
It is also true that the system will weaken the Central government in many ways including its’ ability to collect revenue. In all likelihood this will be the initial effect, however over time the Central government should be able to re-position itself and find a new role that will restore power and strength to it as the central overall governing authority. One can also argue that to strengthen the government in the medium term and long term devolution is vital so as to fully exploit the massive untapped potential we have in the country.

Certain areas in the country will be bankrupt before they start
It is also true that while certain regions will be very strong and prosperous, others will not only be weak but totally unviable. Take most of the vast North Eastern as an example. Prospects of raising revenue there are gloomy at best. The population is too low and there is not much in terms of viable commercial activity that can take place there. However this is not entirely a disadvantage because it will present the devolved government in that area with a challenge that they have to find a solution to.

If we can abandon the 60s thinking for a minute, the North Eastern province has vast potential to do many things. For instance lots of solar energy can be generated from the province to be sold to the national grid (energy is a major problem worldwide and we are going into a serious deficit in the next few years). Wind generators for the same purpose can also do extremely well in the province. Even agriculture can be successfully practiced (the soil and climate there is not very different from what there is in Israel today and that nation produces a huge amount of agricultural produce and most of it is exported). Without a Majimbo system North Eastern will never change but with devolution it stands a fighting chance of changing it’s fortunes. Just look at what the Americans did with Las Vegas (also a desert).

P.S. Here is yet another idea for revenue generation in the North Eastern province. It is clear that our cities are drowning in garbage (our politicians will only take note when people start drowning in it), the wide open spaces of the North eastern province are ideal for the operations of a waste disposal company that will concentrate on recycling as much of the waste as possible for environmental reasons. There is also plenty of space for landfills and no huge population. Enforcing city bylaws will be enough to guarantee such a company plenty of business from the 3 major cities in the country and many other towns.

P.S. 2 The traditional income generating activities in the province can also be enhanced. For example goat rearing and in some areas cows and other livestock as well. The ideal place to create beef-related factories. Also if it is successful in becoming a major energy generation area can attract IT and Internet-related businesses which are on the increase worldwide.


The only way to ensure equitable distribution of wealth
Apart from ensuring equitable distribution of wealth countrywide, Majimboism is the best chance Kenya has of narrowing the gap between the rich and poor because many more opportunities will be created at location and even village level.

Poverty is something that has to be fought and this is much more urgent than many in the political class seem to realize. Because poverty can be directly linked to so many other serious problems in our society like crime and HIV Aids.

Will dramatically speed up development
There is no doubt that devolution will dramatically speed up development countrywide.

Will dramatically reduce corruption
A Majimbo system will help fight corruption. When ordering supplies for the whole country, it is much easier to play all sorts of games and overprice things. However when each region is responsible for its’ own supplies it will dramatically reduce and ultimately eliminate corruption because each region will be able to clearly see exactly what is going on on the ground and vote accordingly in the next elections. With the current structure of the country it will be much easier to prosecute corrupt persons in the district level than it has been to deal with the national heavyweights.

In the long term has a better chance of dealing with tribalism
In the long term, a majimbo system is ironically the best chance the country has of dealing with tribalism. What will happen is that there will be more interdependence between regions and a greater appreciation of each other over time.

Will solve rural to urban migration problem
Devolution will create a lot of jobs at the village and location level as well as small business opportunities and will therefore help reverse the current massive ruiral to urban migration that is of great concern and worsens many other problems the country is facing in its’ major cities and towns.

There seems to be a very deliberate effort to confuse ordinary Kenyans about Majimboism and to create fear. However majimboism as spelt out in the Bomas draft presents great opportunities for Kenya. We need to shun old ideas and old leaders who are bankrupt of new ideas and embrace the future. We cannot embrace that future by looking at the past and the way things have been done in the past.


Anonymous said...

I don't think Majimbo is the way to go. My reasons

1. Introducing 4 new layers of government will mean 4 new layers of bureaucracy. New offices for devolved government, new public servants have to be hired, logistical costs etc. Before the money gets to the "mashinani", it will be used up in administrative costs. Having worked in NGO sector, I know these sector raises hell lot of money but 90% goes to administration offices and 10% to the field for the actual project. Improving on the CDF is the way to go.

2. Creating regional boundaries with tribal inclinations and giving these regions political power will fan tribalism to a greater level. Its no secret Kenyans are tribal. Having a region called Luo Nyanza, another greater Gusii etc is diving people along tribal lines. If current politicians incite people against each other to evict "foreigners" from their land, just imagine what will happen under majimboism. After all, what is Nyongo's mind is not what is in a peasant farmer Kulesoi or Kilifi.

3. Its too costly. Its a fact that most money will go to establishing this new layers of government instead of focusing on building infrastructure. We start redirecting funds to creating a majimbo government will loose the chance of building infrastructure that will make us competitive in global market.

4. The proponents of this system emphasis on redistribution of wealth instead of creation of wealth. We should focus on baking a bigger cake enough of everyone instead of focusing on dividing a small queen cake into 42 tiny peaces that can barely fill anyone stomach.

5. We can learn from Yugoslavia, India and Nigeria, which shows that federalism in a country with diverse cultural differences, ethnic diversities,social classes,religious differences is not a good ides. Actually federal states can still end up being marginalized by receiving lesser federal funding and support.

Sikh said...

Majimbo is the way to. How comes those oppossed to Majimbo are only from one region? What do they fear that other communities/ regions don't?

North Eastern for example is being said that is the least developed and will not even take off, why is it that people from some region i don't want to name are defending North Eastern yet they themselves are for it?

I think its selfishness on some part of our politicians and us followers to start singing things without thought, What is the reason why North Eastern is Under developed? Is it Majimbo? or is it the central government? Why is it that there is almost none existed piped water systems in North Eastern yet they need water more than us for lack of rivers yet Central which is almost 70% piped has got rivers and their boreholes cannot be drilled more than 40feet under when in NE drilling a boreholes goes to more than 150feet under?

IF one method has failed, its only prudent that you try the other, at least for now we have known that central governance doesn't work where one man runs the show, give majimbo a try, if it fails we shall know that there are two ways in which we cannot run Kenya.

Come on people, Kibaki is now talking of Democratic space now, do you know that he was instrumental in taking Kenya to a one party state as the CEO of KANU by doing way with KADU, and voting to make Kenya a one party state when VICE president, lets not forget. When we glamored for multi party he said Mugumo tree will never be cut by a razor, now he has registered party number 307, aint he not enjoying multi- party that he resisted?

When i hear Kibaki talk of the previous regime i alwasys wonder, is it the previous regime at world bank, IMF or Uganda? lest i forget, this guy has been in government for 28yrs when KANU was ruling, or when does preious mean? Colonial govt? Its clear, Nyanza suffered under Kenyatta, Central to some extend under Moi, Nyanza now suffering except for one districk called Rarieda which is like a drop in the ocean. If we had regional govts, no one would suffer because we control our destiny.

Last thing, we say majimbo brings tribalism, what is it with Kibaki going to Western and Naming a district SAMIA, a sub tribe in Luhya land yet the place has got both Banyalas and Samia ain't that not fanning tribalism or is it clanism, then there is TESO, do you want to tell me no other tribe can live there? And yet this is NOT majimbo, lets stop blaming majimbo when there propaganda we are raising is here with us now.

Anonymous said...

Open your hearts and minds!
I am very happy with the intelligent way the writer has handled the issue which honestly is unprecedented in the bloggosphere.I concur that what Kenyans truly want is a commitment to reform because championers of the central system seem to forget that it is largely to blame for the ecoomic failures of the past 44 years. I laud the ODM for introducing an election issue and argue for open-mindedness and dialogue in this process. My message to fear monguerers is that ODM,even a Raila presidency cant own the nation.A consultative process will still have to be initiated to iron out contentious issues probably culminating in another referendum and THE PEOPLE OF KENYA will decide what to do with their land. Why I and any reform minded Kenyan cannot vote for Kibaki is a lack of commitment to change and dynamic and critical thinking that is necessary if Kenya is to be redeemed from the current rampant poverty, corruption inequality and tribalism.Kenyans want a leader commited to politically to allow the space for the country to reform where Kibaki failed by hijacking the constitutional review process in the last minute and instituting their own changes to stay real structural change.
To counter anonymous' point, Kenya is already divided into largely tribal units i.e the provinces and districts. The reasons tribalism is at an all time high is that different Kenyans feel left out of Kibaki's 6% simply due to iequitable allocation of public expenditure. I hear you shouting CDF but the paltry 30m cdf offers is crumbling the national cake instead of creatind smaller units that can deliver prioritised and concerted infrastructural development expenditure not money for public toilets.
When the people are receiving more in terms of governent funds they will not now start killing each other and being tribalistic because their lives are improving!
To counter your point on cost I urge you to read the recently released world bank report advocating for a devolved system. By ensuring equitable distribution of resources, regions like NEastearn whose potential has long been locked due to almost non existent development expenditutre will now become productive thus compund the rate of growth of the national cake rather than stunt it.
I agree that a federal system is not in itself a panacea for our economic woes.The devil as they say is in the details and therefore the focus should be on how exactly to make it work not trashing the idea in it's entirety as Kibaki & co. have done much to my chagrin. Only boldness tempered with caution and intelligence can deliver us from the mess we are in and not dismissive attitudes such as "huyo ana ota na uki kutana na yeye mwambie aendelee kuota ndoto yake" which is a terrible way of trivialising a debate about a matter of state as important as the debate we currently engage in. Sadly, my friend, with Kenya neck deep in debt read 56%, besot in poverty 46% and soaring inflation at 12.4%, Kibaki and his simplistic and rigid line of thought is unikely to be the harbinger of the Kenyan dream as indeed he has proved not to be in the past five years.
Open up your minds to the possibillity of an infinitely brighter Kenya, an unbriddled Kenyan dream where yote yawezekana. God Bless belocved KENYA!

Anonymous said...


joe said...

I love the enthusiasm we have of the Majimbo system. what irritates is when people start quoting the world bank and other foreign busy bodies including ambassadors-we all remember SAPS and how badly they failed- who dont really care whether kenyans succeed or not. A lot of tribal sentiments are also hidden in the agenda, e.g instead of saying i support odm coz a luo is the leader or a kalenjin will be the new pm etc we go by issues. i am ready and willing to try out the majimbo system coz if its gonna work it will work all over the country-we only need to be clear on the systems so i would suggest that the proponents of the system come out clearly on what they mean. I read with interest the anonymous' comments regarding Kibaki and leading the nation with a cabal of tribalists surrounding him. which is true. Raila will also come in with his people-if kajwang, midiwo, etc then i live in Uganda. And i suspect that the Majimbo they have in mind is exactly that-they lock themselves in government and eat. its their turn remember? who hasnt read 'the animal farm' by George Orwell? Tribalism is deep-so far-hence the worry about majimbo. while we, the so called intellectuals can have a decent exchange of ideas over the blog, the sentiments on the ground are different. One former MP in ainamoi or some other constituency in Nandi said that nandis never sell their land but 'lease' it out which means if you own a plot there this would be the right time to 'hightail it'. But still if the price to be paid for development will be tribal clashes here and there before things settle then many will say Majimboism will not be in vain. so who among us is willing to give their mother, father, sister, brother, kid etc to die for the cause? For as sure as tomorrow will be a saturday we will get people chasing others away from 'their ancestral land'. Let me also make it clear that Kikuyus will suffer most evictions if it ever comes to that as they are the most widespread tribe-their attachment to land has also contributed much to this. so it is natural for them to be resistant to the idea-do you remember the last time your company was downsizing-for a leaner and more effective way of doing things and there were no volunteers?-same thing. We will never be free of tribalism. We have just to accept it and move on. Have Kikuyus benefited from the current central governemt? opinions will vary but i also know that kamiti is full of them, matheri the gangstar who was gunned down and a million other hawkers, mama mbogas, prostitutes, street boys, touts etc-does anyone believe all this people wouldnt embrace majimbo if it were to benefit them? How has the current central government helped them as it is? including me and yourself? I wont comment on the rehabilitation of roads in central kenya. i use nairobi-mombasa highway frequently and i do not know how many kikuyus live there and it currently is the best in this country. anyone who last went to mombasa 4 or 5 years ago would be lost in slumberland coz of the smoothness all the way past machakos. If majimboism will bring better development so be it. However let me just point out that if there is anyone who believes that the ODM wave is about making Kenya an equal country and that they will bring Majimbo, then i am willing to bet they also believe that the iraq war is about terrorism. As Moi once said when you are wooing a lady....

bloggeratti said...

First, let me applaud the contributors in this blog who have approached this issue with open and sober minds.

I won't claim to be an Economic guru or expert ho-hum in this that or the other.
But I'm vehemently against Majimbo in its CURRENT FORM.

TRUE, it will devolve power and give it back to people on the grassroots.
TRUE, it will provide a level playing field and facilitate the elimination of the inequitable distribution of resources.

NOT TRUE, that it will bring economic miracles, not immediately anyway. Why?

1. Switching from one system to another has its costs. It will be a while before we realise its fruits, and believe me, the world won't sit around waiting for us to play catch-up. Put succintly, if we embrace Majimbo, we can kiss our regional dominance in COMESA goodbye.

2. Chances are, we will have to finance these "revolutionary changes". It's no miracle that World Bank and Co. are all thumbs up for Majimbo. Like I've asked before, do you think the UK/US/German envoys openly support the opposition because they love Hon. Raila's distinguised white goatee? Noooo!
It's because they are going to make a pile from us and influence OUR internal policies in THEIR favour. The million dollar question is, do you want your children's grandchildren born in debt? Like you were?

I like the way Chris and other contributors put their cases forward (the objective ones, that is).
I think it is time we reached a middle ground - one that implements Majimbo, yet minimises the imminent risks of its implementation.

I believe a devolved system of government, implement soberly using existing infrastructure and deviod of the political machinations of the "Wabunge" (a species I consider sub-human) would really take this country to the next level.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Lets get one thing straight, the majimbo debate IS NOT an excuse for Kikuyu bashing. Am Kikuyu and pro-majimbo as is the vast majority of my family. So I cant understand these generalisations that some of the posts make e.g. Sikh! God knows this debate is complicated enough as it is without hate-filled persons like yourselves soiling our minds with your bigoted views. If you know you can not see beyond my Kikuyu name and see a human-being with aspirations and dreams just like you, tafadhali do us all a favour....JINYONGE! To the bloggers, remember Rwanda?? We all have a responsibility to quell anti-tribal sentiments, even while we promote freedom of expression. Sikhs comments read perfectly coherently when you remove the Nazi paragraph at the top. Thats exactly what you should have done. Please have a code of conduct and ensure that your readers know that hate will not be tolerated. I hope I will see some kind of response from you guys.

stevo said...

The blogger has given a very structured argument that clearly shows that he supports Majimbo, but the critical question that we need to address is who's Majimbo are we talking about? For instance going through devolution in the Bomas and Wako draft i see two clearly distinct systems of devolution. The swahili word Majimbo does not help matters as it call Devolution, federalism, Wards, Constituencies Majimbo. So clearly we are not even sure which kind of Majimbo our so called Waheshimiwa Wezi are proposing.
But going by the two draft constitutions, for me it is clear that devolution as espoused in the Wako draft is the way to go. The Bomas draft has one fundamental flaw to me, and that is, it places the regional government at the same level with the central government, even giving it veto powers over the central government. This to me is dangerous as it places the regions in a colition course with the central government, especially in a tribal society such as ours. The 1977 shifta war may be just a prelude of things to come if such a system is put in place. In the minds of many Kenyans there is the illusion that Majimbo will create miracles. What is sorry is that even in the current system places like coast lag behind mainly because many people in that region lack personal initiatives to empower themselves even when blessed with immense resources.

Another point to consider is that in places like
Nigeria which is a good case in point where federalism has been practiced and still many social and political issues are not solved, ethic clashes are common with deadly impact. even in the U.S certain states; even after so many years of independence and being a world model, still languish in underdevelopment, the best example being states like New Orleans. In Australia the Aborigine question still lingers as they have been left to their own means in their native reserves.
With little research one can give very many cases in point where different systems of devolution have achieved both equal measures of success and failure. Having said this i go back to the point that what we need in Kenya is a good devolved system within our Unitary system. The UK is an example of a country where proper devolution in a unitary system has ensured development without fragmenting the Kingdom. Putting too much legislative and political powers in the hands of our kind of politicians is a recepy for disaster, imagine Ntimama as a governor for a region. You have total chaos. Due to the unique and sensitive ethnic equation, what we need in Kenya is strong devolved system with the Unitary system, our politicians whom we pay millions should be able to come up with proper laws to ensure the system works well. The Wako draft proposed the district as the level of devolution, from there the resources can be shared out to the lower entities. We also need to make the judiciary and the legislature independent of the executive by sharing out the immense executive powers amongst three arms. But the strong point here is that we must reserve power to the united Nation of Kenya and not small almost independent states. And don't anybody tell me that a good devolved systems cant work in a unitary state. The majority of countries in the world are unitary states many with huge success. To maintain our diversity without necessarily creating ethnic "kingdoms" we must be wise as to how we approach the issue. For me federalism is a radical approach which is uncalled for, the problems we face are not because of our unitary system but because of bad laws and bad governance within the system, change the laws and the governance and you will get a good unified republic.Otherwise you just serve to take the problems of corruption and ethnicity to lower levels where they will continue to be practiced with impunity. And just a question, do you people really suppose that Kenyans would want a powerfully premier elected by the house of thieves? Think wisely.
Another thing we must refrain from is equating Majimbo with certain tribes, Our three key presidential aspirants by and large get their bulk support from their ethnic back grounds so in practice they are all tribalist and so are we all who fit in the same equation. The tribes in Kenya who have been at one time or another chased from their land which they bought with their own sweat not only Kikuyu's are perhaps the most cautious with this Majimbo thing, the law was around and it did not protect them. So as much as people say certain tribes will not be evicted from certain regions it still leaves a bad taste in the mouth, who will protect them? the regional governments which will clearly be made up of a bulk from one tribe? Let the buck stop with the three arms of the government in equal measure to ensure even the executive will not be able to abuse his powers. Majibo as proper devolution within the unitary system yes. Majimbo as Federalism No.

Anonymous said...

Our blogger here has done a great job in presenting cause for the Majimbo system. I mostly appreciated what was left out...the bashing of tribes. If you are going to discuss a system such like this, it helps to convey it without animosity and blame. However, I saw the lights fade when a finger was pointed at the Catholic Church for rejecting the Majimbo System. I do not think their intentions had anything to do with Muslim's supporting Majimbo. I shriek at the idea of a religious battle frothing out of this.

That said I do not support the Majimbo system. I think everyone understands that Majimbo is a mirror of a Federal system where you have a national government and state or Kenya's case provincial governments that govern their territories. The most notable nation with this kind of government is none other than the USA.

If you look at the United States you see clearly why a Federal government works. The land is quite vast and what concerns one region of the country may not necessarily concern another. You have a region that is mainly concerned with agriculture, another with industry, another with trade, another area landlocked, another with ports, regions with drastically different climates and the list goes on.

However, all these states recognize and respect a unified nation. People from one state to another recognize each other as Americans. This is important. Family ties, or places of origin are not readily discussed or apparent. It’s perhaps why immigrants do come to this country.

Turn your attention to Kenya and you find that yes we have different regions, different climates, different interests and different needs. An inevitable unifying feature is that Kenya is an Agricultural country. Yes we are growing in different industries, but far and large we are agricultural. An inevitable difference is that we have a plethora of tribes and people tend to recognize each other by tribes. I do admit a handful of tribes standout, but let us not negate that someone in Coast will not immediately see a person in Nyanza as Kenyan. Tribal identification is strong. If the state is going to be a Majimbo state, you probably will see division of nations into pockets of tribal strong holds. The current division of the nation into provinces reflects that and Majimbo will build on that and elevate it to a greater degree. This is when you’ll begin to hear that a certain state is getting more funding because a certain tribe exists. Or people being harassed out of certain areas because they are not part of the tribe. These I am sure exist now even as we speak, but imagine their elevation and deeper impact.

In short the country stands to be divided with Majimbo.

Kikuyu Woman said...

I don't know about majimbo, but, as I've listened to this debate about equitable distribution of resources, I've realised that we as Kikuyus actually stand to gain rather than to loose.

If you look at a map of Kenya and draw a line around all the arable land, the Rift Valley south of Mt Elgon, Nyanza, Central and significant chunks of Eastern, you'll see that it makes up for circa one third of the size of this country. All this is arable land. At the present moment, Central province constitutes circa 10% of this land and Kikuyus, because of their population, have spilled out into the Rift valley. Kikuyus, being 22 per cent of the population of Kenya are EQUITABLY entitled to 22 per cent of this land. If you're talking of the wider GEMA community, then we constitute about 30 % of the population of Kenya, given that the Meru are about 6% of the country and the Embu are about 1.5 to 2 percent therefore we're entitled to 30% of this land rather than the 13% or so that everybody is trying to squeeze us into.

So Kikuyus should be welcoming equitable distribution of the country's resources.

On the other hand, the Kalenjin are in for a shock or twenty, as they constitute only about 11 per cent of the population of this country and seem to be claiming for themselves thirty per cent of the arable lands.

Yeah, let the games begin. Bring on equitable distribution. Please. Now.


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