A delegation from the County Assembly of Laikipia in Kenya has completed a study visit to Tynwald and found the experience ‘extremely valuable’.
Arranged by the Office of the Clerk of Tynwald the visit built on that of April 2011 when officers from the parliament of Kenya came to study the structure and operation of Tynwald after the country’s new constitution had been approved by a referendum in August 2010, which led to the creation of 47 counties, including Laikipia.
The delegation of five Members, Hon Jacob Endom, Hon Michael Kinyua, Hon Rose Maitai, Hon Peter Thomi and Hon Catherine Waruguru, together with two officers, Stanley Ngwiri and Purity Wanjiku, spent a week meeting Members and officers of Tynwald and senior government officials and also enjoyed a tour of the Island.
After observing the workings of Tynwald, which included attending a sitting of Tynwald Court and a select committee private meeting Mrs Maitai said: ‘Much of the policy making is clearly geared to offering an improved quality of life to the people and that is most commendable. At home levels of poverty are high, with begging on the streets common. Laikipia, which is currently suffering from drought, relies on rain-fed agriculture so nature doesn’t allow government to “think big” in a county where building just one dam could improve the lives of around 30,000 people.’
Mrs Matai said she was interested to note how the Lord Bishop was permitted to both speak and vote in the Legislative Council, a body of Members Mrs Waruguru commended for the role they played in contributing to parliamentary democracy.
The delegation also had the opportunity to watch the 2014 sitting of Junior Tynwald, which prompted Mrs Waruguru to comment: ‘I believe it would be of value for us to introduce a version of Junior Tynwald at county level as we are keen to bring young people on board and encourage them to become actively involved in decision-making processes, an objective central to the new constitution.’
The delegation spent time with the teams from Hansard and the Tynwald Chamber and Information Service. ‘IT-wise Tynwald is doing very well,’ said Mrs Waruguru, commenting on the quality of the Tynwald website and adding that although its internet connectivity was unreliable Laikipia had ambitions to become ‘a paperless assembly’.
Mr Thomi spoke for all the delegation when he praised the Isle of Man for the degree of independence it maintained from the United Kingdom and, on a more practical note, said he and his fellow Members had been struck by the ease of public access to the Legislative Buildings. ‘At home we are used to high security so we were also surprised to learn how Members of Tynwald can walk about in the town unaccompanied by security officials, a level of freedom parliamentarians in our county seldom enjoy.’
He concluded: ‘We knew we needed to be here. At home we have a heap of problems. Coming to Tynwald has been very worthwhile.’