ODM leader Raila Odinga and his Wiper counterpart Kalonzo Musyoka on Monday stepped in to help break the stalemate over the contentious revenue-sharing formula that is threatening to divide the country.
Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka threw their weight behind the third basis of sharing county billions developed by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA), giving fresh hope of breaking the impasse they said was threatening national unity.
Mr Odinga underscored the fact that the key principle in the recommendation by CRA is that allocation should be population-driven.
“The CRA recommendation is based on an understanding that county governments are about service requirements of the population, including in health, agriculture, infrastructure, education, among others.”
“The Senate made certain amendments to the CRA recommendation, but equally retained the central principle that allocation must be about the population,” Mr Odinga said.
He lamented that, unfortunately, the Senate had disagreed on its own amendments.
To avoid a similar stand-off in the future, Mr Odinga said, the concerns currently arising should be forwarded to the CRA for consideration in its future recommendations.
He said that the resources recommended could serve the counties well if corruption were eliminated and the perpetrators at the national and county levels heavily punished.
“Luckily, the war on corruption is yielding fruit and should safeguard public finances,” he added.
“We must also encourage counties to raise their own revenues from their economic activities and demand prudent use of the resources,” he said.
“Having had a robust debate on this matter, the Senate should now allow the country to move forward by adopting the CRA report while using the concerns voiced for future recommendations on revenue sharing,” he added.
ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna said his party leader and President Kenyatta had agreed on a solution to the impasse and that the matter is now finalised.
“Baba akisema ni hivyo (If Baba (Raila) says so, it is so,” Mr Sifuna said.
But even as Mr Odinga appeared to have given his troops the green light to approve the new formula, some of his close allies told the Nation that “it is not over until it is over.”
“How can you commit suicide? That is absolute suicide because which region will he travel to for votes?” asked the official.
Mr Musyoka, for his part, urged the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to bring to book county officials misappropriating public funds.
This came even as he challenged the county assemblies to impeach any governor found guilty of embezzling public funds.
“There is no doubt that counties have been receiving large amounts of money and not accounting for it, not using it properly. In many instances, misappropriation and outright theft is the norm,” Mr Musyoka said.
To cushion the counties that will lose out if the CRA formula is adopted, Mr Kalonzo proposed an amendment to the Constitution through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to significantly increase the money allocated to the Equalization Fund.
Article 204 of the Constitution provides that 0.5 per cent of all the revenue collected by the national government each year calculated on the basis of the most recently audited accounts approved by the National Assembly be paid into the fund.
The fund is meant to cushion marginalised counties, but not all the counties that stand to lose in the new CRA formula are marginalised.
Separately, The Service Party (TSP) leader Mwangi Kiunjuri accused some leaders of claiming the CRA formula was intended to benefit a certain community, noting that such blackmail, divide-and-isolate-politics has no place in modern society.
“I find it unfortunate that this late in the day, when counties are in dire need of their share of revenue, issues are being raised to delay, derail or outrightly defeat work that has been painstakingly done to enhance equitable development,” Mr Kiunjuri said.
He wondered why those pushing for the BBI process, which proposes to give more resources to the counties, can create problems around a formula that seeks to do the same.
According to Mr Kiunjuri, if the previous formulae had omissions or improvements that need to be corrected, “Why must insincere mind games be introduced for political and electoral advantage?”
“As TSP, we strongly support the proposed formula as the pathway to a fairer, more equitable distribution of resources in this country. We urge Senators to take a bold stand and support the formula,” Mr Kiunjuri said.