It is do or die for the Building Bridges Task Force as it heads to a retreat Tuesday to prepare handover notes against spirited attempts by forces allied to Deputy President William Ruto to shoot it down.
The term of the team also referred to as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) ends on Wednesday, the same day they will be drafting the notes to accompany the main report to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The two-day retreat is meant to discuss and fine tune the final report before it is given to Mr Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga. “We are waiting for the handover protocols,” Mr Paul Mwangi, the BBI secretary, told the Sunday Nation on Saturday.
The meeting also offers a chance to look at the draft report one more time, as leaders from Central, Nyanza and Coast ask the public to support the recommendations in their entirety.
Some of the crucial proposals include the reintroduction of the position of prime minister, borrowed from the Tanzania model of president, and PM.
Another crucial proposal is for ministers to be appointed from among serving MPs as in the previous constitution.
They argue that the current arrangement does not allow easy coordination between the Legislature and the Executive arms.
In Tanzania, the PM is subordinate to the president and leads government business in the National Assembly.
Tanzanian PM Kassim Majaliwa is hugely overshadowed by President John Pombe Magufuli.
Perhaps the closest to what BBI has in mind is the current arrangement where Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has been elevated to oversee the co-ordination of the national government as well as chair the Cabinet committee on development.
Over the weekend, reports were rife that the team had been summoned to State House Mombasa to give President Uhuru Kenyatta its recommendations only for chairman Yusuf Haji to clarify that it was not the case.
“I was at the Coast in my capacity as a member of the board of trustees of Umma University where the President gave the institution a charter. People must have confused my presence there for that,” Senator Haji said, adding they were as good as done.
The BBI will also be rooting for stiffer penalties against graft suspects in what could see the introduction of a mandatory death penalty for those found guilty of stealing from the public coffers, among other far-reaching recommendations.
At a time China has influenced most of the country’s sectors, members were taken through anti-graft success campaigns in the world’s most populous country where hundreds of those found culpable of stealing from the public face the hangman’s noose every year.
Multiple sources familiar with the contents of the draft report, some being members of the task force, confided to the Sunday Nation that legal loopholes and lenient punishments have been identified as some of the enabling factors for corruption in high places.
Equally, they want the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) given more powers to free the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to focus on solving other crimes as opposed to current situation where the roles of the two institutions overlap.
THE BBI is also of the view that the law needs to prescribe the period within which graft cases must be concluded as opposed to the current situation where they drag in the courts for years.
They also want the National Cohesion and Integration Commission given more teeth to deal with hate mongers, especially during electioneering period when politicians usually resort to incitement to galvanise support. Those found guilty will be banned from contesting future elections.
The proposal to have a president serve for a seven-year non-renewable term was also on the table, but the move not to recommend a referendum has seen it relegated as the supreme law requires that any changes that alter the structure of the Executive be subjected to a plebiscite.
Members are also of the opinion that the runner-up in any presidential election needs to be engaged by the winner to avoid having him “idle or as a loose cannon for the sake of post-election harmony”. They leave it to Parliament to consider enacting a law to the effect.
DP Ruto has never hidden his strong opposition to the BBI. On Friday, he appeared to be preparing ground for the battle royale.
“As a democratic society, the proposals by BBI will be subjected to an open national conversation where every voice (the weak/strong, the small/big) will be heard. Those working hard to create new fault lines, an ‘us versus them’ clash, will fail so miserably they will be shocked!,” he fired.
On Saturday, Mr Ruto trained his gun at Mr Odinga accusing him of a plot to use the BBI report to redraw the country’s political architecture ahead of the next General Election.
"Those who want to create new fault lines as we work towards building bridges for the unity of our nation in order to eliminate hate and divisions, those who want to take us that path will fail miserably.
We want to make sure that the future of this country is not based on this community versus that community, or personality against another personality but ideas that bring Kenyans together," he said in Elgeyo Marakwet.
By avoiding the referendum route, Parliament is the next battlefront for Mr Ruto and Mr Odinga.
While Mr Odinga’s camp wanted a referendum to create a powerful premier’s position, Mr Kenyatta’s and DP Ruto’s interests appeared to have converged somewhere.
The DP is keen to inherit the presidency in its current form and structure.
While Mr Kenyatta’s handlers say they were not going to support a referendum given its disruptive nature with the effect of overshadowing his legacy projects, for DP it would have had huge financial implications.
First, being the person around which the "NO" camp would have coalesced would have meant financing the anti-referendum push and secondly incur another heavier expense in the next general election, having declared interest to succeed Mr Kenyatta.