Third Way Alliance Kenya party leader Ekuru Aukot has laughed off talks by some MPs opposed to his Punguza Mizigo Bill, saying the National Assembly will not determine its fate and that once it gets the backing of 24 counties, it will pass the test for a referendum.
According to Dr Aukot, his Bill which seeks to reduce the representation in Parliament from 416 members to 147 and to increase counties’ revenue share to 35 percent, will qualify for a referendum after getting the threshold backing in counties.
He said the National Assembly will only discuss the merits and the demerits of the Bill.
Dr Aukot spoke Tuesday in Murang’a after meeting members of the county assembly.
He said the Punguza Mizigo approach to amend the Constitution is based on cutting costs and strengthening devolution and using the ward as the primary unit of development in order to spur economic growth.
“Once we have the backing from at least 24 counties, we shall have passed the test of heading to a referendum. The National Assembly will only be given a chance to discuss the merits and the demerits of the Bill which changes the structure of Parliament and the executive,” he said.
He called on MCAs to approve his Bill, saying it was geared towards reducing the cost of running Parliament from current Sh36.8 billion to Sh5 billion per year, saving tax payers Sh31.8 billion.
Mr Aukot poked holes into the Building Bridges Initiative, saying its mandate of seeking views of Kenyans on the governance is not anchored in law and, therefore, its efforts cannot result to the amendment of the Constitution.
“The Constitution can only be changed through the popular initiative or the parliamentary initiative…[and] the Building Bridges Initiative does not fall under any of the two categories. It’s an amorphous group that has used Sh10 billion tax payers’ money and we have filed a suit to [challenge it],” he told the Nation.
But Mr Aukot’s Bill faced stiff opposition from a section of MCAs who said there are a lot of clauses that need clarification.
Murang’a Speaker Nduati Kariuki had issues with the proposed way of fighting corruption, saying the law may end up jailing suspects of misdemeanours for life and leaving economic crimes suspects to walk scot free.
“The Bill should have clearly stated the intended purposes when it comes to the fight against graft. It might end up jailing those involved in bribing a police officer with Sh200 for life since they can’t afford a battery of lawyers and leave suspects of economic crimes since they can afford to buy justice and hire [many] of lawyers,” Mr Kariuki said.
On his part, Gaturi MCA Kiiru Mbembe said the Bill will put the country in a campaign mode all through.
“The Bill proposes for the election of the President after seven years and MPs and other seats [every] five years. This means that the country will be kept in an electioneering mode all through and this will hurt development,” he said.