NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 21 – National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale and the Senate Minority Leader James Orengo have urged county assemblies to reject the Punguza Mizigo referendum Bill sponsored by the Thirdway Alliance party.
Duale who spoke in his Garissa Township constituency on Saturday said the passage of the Bill will be detrimental to pastoral communities which comprise the majority of his constituents with Orengo telling residents in Siaya the initiators of the referendum Bill did not undertake adequate public participation.
“Pastoralists are not ready to pass the Bill if it will reduce Member o f County Assembly (MCA) seats and constituency-based seats. If members of the Garissa County Assembly pass the Bill, we shall deal with them as a community,” Duale remarked.
Orengo told Siaya MCAs to shun the Bill and instead wait for proposals by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) taskforce, a 14-member team constituted after the March 9, 2018, political truce between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his archrival in the 2017 presidential election, Raila Odinga, to engage the public on issues impeding the country’s quest for unity particularly recurring ethnic division during national elections.
“The current referendum question has not gone through the process of public consultation,” he said.
The sentiments were shared by Unguja lawmaker Opiyo Wandayi and his Rarieda counterpart Otiende Amollo.
“I’m totally opposed to Thirdway Alliance’s proposals. Let them wait for the final report of the BBI so that we go to one referendum,” Unguja MP said.
Amollo dismissed the referendum bid by Thirdway Alliance as opportunistic.
“That Bill is one that must be rejected because it is opportunistic. We do not want opportunism. We must await the BBI report which is futuristic,” he said.
The Bill by the Ekuru Aukot-led Thirdway Alliance was forwarded to county assemblies by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on Wednesday after the poll agency verified 1.2 million signatures of registered voters, exceeding the constitutional threshold of 1 million signatures required for the approval of a referendum Bill.
The Thirdway Alliance Bill seeks to reduce the number of national lawmakers from the current 416 to 147 and localize development to the wards with the existing 1,450 units currently being represented by MCA being used as the primary centres of development.
While launching an appeal for the support of the Bill on Friday, Aukot told the press the reduction in the number of representatives at national legislative assemblies – National Assembly and Senate – as well as the downward review of salaries paid to State officials will save the country at least Sh3.8 billion annually.
“I am urging all our leaders and Kenyans at large to take this initiative positively, support it and remove any kind of politics from it. I am certain that if no politics will be included in this Bill, then all he forty seven counties will back it,” he said.
Lawmakers in the national legislative assemblies however see Aukot’s Bill as an attempt to dilute their influence with the scrapping of National Government-Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) and National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) in favor of a ward-based development module.
The Punguza Mizigo Bill required the backing of 24 county assemblies being half the number of the 47 county assemblies for it to be presented in the National Assembly and the Senate for consideration.
Article 257 (9) of the Constitution (2010) provides that the Bill shall be presented to the President for Assent if the two Houses of Parliament endorse it.
Should either of the two Houses reject the Bill, Article 257 (10) the requires that it is subjected to a national referendum where voters will either accept proposed changes to the constitution of reject them.