Thirdway Alliance party leader Ekuru Aukot’s daring attempt to change the Constitution through a popular initiative dubbed Punguza Mizigo bill is on the verge of collapse as more county assemblies rejected it on Wednesday.
Baringo, Machakos, Kitui, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Nandi, Mombasa, Marsabit, Vihiga, Kilifi, Migori and Isiolo county assemblies rejected the bill saying most of its provisions were not implementable.
Elgeyo-Marakwet MCAs unanimously rejected the bill during a sitting on Wednesday morning citing a number reasons for their decision.
The members approved a committee report that declared the bill unpalatable for asking for the abolishing of constituencies.
The report also stated that abolishing of Constituency Development Fund which has been the backbone of development with be a blow to the community.
They further stated that lack of nomination to the senate would affect the one third gender rule making the bill gender insensitive.
They also said the compulsory election of either gender at the constituency would suppress democracy in the country.
Speaking to the press after the sitting committee chairperson Evans Limo of Kapyego Ward stated that the assembly had no option as per what the ground demanded.
"Ninety percent of the members of public in Elgeyo Marakwet were against the bill because of most of the reasons we have tabled today. It would have been of no use for us to vote for it," said Limo
Limo further stated that the bill was so rigid and did not show any signs of flexibility.
"If amendment in the bill would have been considered probably to iron out few issues in it, it would have passed, " he said.
In Nandi, the Punguza Mizigo bill was voted down by ward reps who faulted it for proposing a one-term presidency saying it would encourage corruption.
The MCAs also said the bill would encourage marginalisation of women.
MCAs Teresa Maiyo, Cynthia Muge and Fred Kemboi led members to reject the bill.
“The bill is targeting political leaders and more so women and top civil servants who would continue to take home huge salaries while politicians would be strangled in earning salaries and allowances,” said Mr Kemboi.
Baringo County Assembly rejected the bill noting that it did not capture the views of the public in the ground.
In a stormy debate presided by Speaker David Kiplagat, majority of the ward reps said that the bill is ‘anti-devolution’.
Tangulbei Ward Rep Shadrack Mailuk opposed the bill noting that the aim of devolution is to reach to the people at the grassroots.
“Looking keenly at this Punguza Mizigo bill, it is contrary to the spirit of devolution. It is aiming to scrap some constituencies and wards which will stop us from reaching to the people at the grassroots. We should reject it as it aims at creating unemployment in this country,” said the MCA.
Nominated MCA Betty Birchoko who supported the Bill questioned why the change of stand by the assembly on the Punguza Mizigo yet they had pledged to endorse it when held session with the assembly recently.
“I stand here to support Punguza Mizigo. History will judge us harshly if we don’t debate properly,” she said.
Isiolo MCAs rejected Dr Aukot’s proposal saying that it sought to erode the gains realised since the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution.
“The bill has no good intentions for the citizens of the country and is aimed at removing the gains we have already realized from our current constitution,” said Mr Izaak Fayo, who is the MCA or Kinna and the majority leader of the assembly.
Oldonyiro Ward Rep David Lemantile said reduction of the constituencies will lead to underrepresentation of the county that he said needs extra constituencies.
“We want the seats increased to have inclusivity and more representation in realizing more development,” said Mr Lemantile adding that the current constitution does not need any amendments.
Ms Stella Ntuti, nominated MCA representing persons living with disabilities said there was need for increased seats especially for women, youths and PWDs for inclusivity.
“Scrapping off the nominations is retrogressive and will marginalize the special groups among them PWDs,” said Ms Ntuti.
In Machakos, the ward reps rejected the Punguza Mizigo bill after a debate in which majority of the members opposed some of the provisions in the proposal.
Mumbuni North Ward Rep Paul Museku led the onslaught on the bill pointing out that it went against the spirit of the constitution 2010 which introduced devolution in the country.
"This bill goes against the spirit of the constitution 2010.When you reduce the organs of representation envisaged in the Constitution then you are going against the spirit of the Constitution. Devolution was key,” said Mr Museku.
He further opposed the proposal to reduce the number of constituencies from 290 to 47 saying it will make the people suffer as they will be spending money to travel far to see their leader.
He said reducing representation was not applicable in a developing country.
Mr Museku also said reducing the term of the President to only one term will put the country in perpetual election mode.
Similar sentiments were voiced by assembly majority leader Mark Muendo who said giving the President one term will not enhance accountability.
"If the President knows he is going for only one term he will be corrupt and will not be accountable to the people," said Mr Muendo.
All the nominated women MCAs who spoke opposed the bill saying it proposed to abolish the two thirds gender rule which had brought them to the assembly. The session was chaired by speaker Florence Mwangangi.
In Migori, MCAs rejected the bill citing it’s not inclusive and is not in tandem with the spirit of devolution.
The ward reps also said that that they had directions form the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party to shoot it down.
Migori County Aseembly Speaker Boaz Okoth told journalists at a press briefing, moments after leading the MCAs in shooting down the bill, that they found the proposal has elements that will alienate minority groups in the country.
"This bill seeks to cap representations in the national sphere to two, this means minority groups will be greatly affected. When will they be part of this representation if this bill is enacted?'' he asked.
Mr Okoth noted that the bill further sidelined women as it wished to remove women representation in the National Assembly.
Reporting by Evans Kipkura, Tom Matoke, Florah Koech, Waweru Wairimu, Ian Byron and Stephen Muthini.