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Aukot's Punguza Mizigo bill a waste of time: Homa Bay MCAs

Wednesday September 18 2019

Thirdway Alliance leader Ekuru Aukot

Thirdway Alliance leader Ekuru Aukot addresses journalists on the Punguza Mizigo bill at the party's headquarters in Lavington, Nairobi, on September 12, 2019. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

GEORGE ODIWUOR
By GEORGE ODIWUOR
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Thirdway Alliance Party has suffered yet another setback in its push for constitutional changes as the Homa Bay County Assembly on Wednesday rejected its Punguza Mizigo Bill.

The bill has been rejected four times now, Siaya, Kirinyaga and Muranga County Assemblies being the other opponents.

The Uasin Gishu assembly passed it.

UNANIMOUS REJECTION

In Homa Bay, MCAs unanimously rejected proposals by Dr Ekuru Aukot to change the Constitution in a debate that lasted about an hour.

The proposal was tabled before the House by Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chairman Okuku Miregi who told the assembly that is had been subjected to scrutiny and public participation.

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“This bill went through all the required channels before being brought to the House. It is now up to you to either accept or reject it,” he told members.

JOB SECURITY

Mr Miregi said his committee opposed the proposed constitutional changes due to job loss fears.

Dr Aukot wants State officers adversely mentioned by the Office of the Auditor General to step aside for investigations.

Mr Miregi expressed fear that Homa Bay MCAs and legislators in other counties may be affected by this proposal if the bill sails through.

“We have had several leadership changes in this assembly over mistakes made by people who were holding office in the past. If we allow this bill to pass through, some of us will be punished for mistakes we never made,” he said.

Homa Bay has been in the limelight before following reports by the auditor-general of faults including failure to account for money.

RETROGRESSIVE BILL

Mr Miregi claimed the Punguza Mizigo Bill has many retrogressive proposals that will affect the gains Kenyans are enjoying under the current Constitution, including devolution.

From the beginning of the debate at the plenary, it was clear that it would not be passed with members ridiculing its provisions, an indication that ward reps were staying loyal to local leaders including ODM leader Raila Odinga, Woman Rep Gladys Wanga and Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma who had asked them to throw it out.

59 out of 60 MCAs are ODM members.

On several occasions, members disrupted the debate under Standing Order Number 91 requesting acting Speaker Evance Marieba to call upon Mr Miregi to respond to some of the opinions MCAs had raised.

WASTE OF TIME

More than five members termed the bill a waste of time.

Mfangano Ward MCA Okwach Oranga told the House that the proposals were rejected by county residents when the assembly conducted a public participation.

“Who are we to accept what our electorate have rejected.? Let us be quick and throw out the proposals,” he said.

Kabondo West MCA Geofrey Anyango described details in the bill as "useless" and requested members to "just reject it".

“This assembly has other important business to deliberate on. Let us not discuss what we believe will not help us,” he said.

Nominated MCA Susan Onyango opposed the bill saying it does not address key issues including corruption, huge debts and low revenue collection.

She appreciated the initiative by Dr Aukot to reduce the huge wage bill but expressed concern over reduced representation in Parliament.

INTERVENTION

Mr Marieba accused some of the MCAs of misusing their powers and demanded that Mr Anyango apologise to the House and let other members discuss the matter.

“This House has spent its time checking and scrutinising proposals in the bill. Making a quick decision before listening to the opinions of other members would be an infringement on their rights,” he said.

“In addition, there are people who don’t know what is contained in the bill so this is an opportunity to let them know because it is a serious matter,” the acting Speaker added.

Dr Aukot is seeking to reduce the number of MPs and other leaders to minimise the amount of money the country spends on salaries.

Ms Onyango claimed the proposal is likely to minimise representation in legislative houses, which she said goes against the current Constitution.

Her remarks were echoed by Ruma Kaksingri MCA Eliphalet Osuri and Karachuonyo North's Paul Wamunga who said representation will be limited for those with special needs and marginalised communities.

Nominated MCA Kevin Onyango accused the Thirdway Alliance of trying to use county assemblies to make constitutional changes when the party has no single member in any of the legislative houses.