Anthony Mwangi and KNA @PeopleDailyKe
It is a rough start for the Thirdway Alliance’s Punguza Mizigo referendum bill after various lawmakers opposed the initiative and vowed to fight it.
National Assembly Leader of Majority Aden Duale fired the first salvo on Saturday, warning County Assembly Members against passing the referendum bill sponsored by Ekuru Aukot’s party.
He said the bill is “detrimental to pastoral communities and vowed to personally ensure the legislation does not go through once tabled at the County Assemblies.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on Thursday approved the 1.2 million signatures collected by Aukot’s party, paving the way for the referendum bill to be tabled before the 47 County Assemblies for debate.
“I want to categorically say it here without any fear of contradiction that we will talk to our MCAs in ASAL counties not to pass the bill,” said Duale in his Garissa Township constituency on Saturday. “If members of the Garissa County Assembly pass the bill, we shall deal with them as a community.”
He said the only good thing in the initiative was the proposal to increase counties revenue share from 15 to 35 per cent.
And five legislators from Siaya county urged Kenyans to ignore the bill, terming it cosmetic.
Senator James Orengo and MPs Otiende Amollo (Rarieda), Samuel Atandi (Alego Usonga), Christine Ombaka (Woman Representative) and Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) said the decision by the IEBC to give the bill a green light was questionable, given a previous similar earlier attempt by ODM was thrown out.
The lawmakers urged Kenyans to wait for the Building Bridges Initiative report that will recommend the way forward. The BBI is also expected to recommend a referendum to address the various challenges facing the country.
Wandayi said the country does not have resources to waste on piecemeal votes.
Punguza Mizigo bill seeks to, among other things, cut the number of MPs from 416 to 147 to reduce the public wage bill and introduce a single seven-year presidential term. It also aims at capping salaries of elected leaders to a maximum consolidated pay of Sh500,000 for the presidency and Sh300,000 for MPs per month.
Orengo asked Siaya MCAs to shun the bill and instead wait for the report by BBI taskforce formed after the Handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga.
“The questions in Aukot’s proposals have not undergone stakeholders’ consultations. Let us wait for October when we will have the BBI report and thereafter a referendum that will decide on the fate of Kenyans,” he said.
Wandayi urged IEBC and Thirdway Alliance to be patient and wait for the BBI taskforce report so that the country holds one referendum
Meanwhile, the Kenya Humans Rights Commission executive director George Kegoro warned Aukot to brace for resistance from the political class.
His remarks were supported by constitution lawyer Kamotho Waiganjo, who said Punguza Mizigo initiative is bound to ruffle some feathers.