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Hold referendum call, address drought and hunger: Democratic Party

Friday July 19 2019

Democratic Party boss Njagi Kumantha

Njagi Kumantha, the Democratic Party's National Organising Secretary. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

CHARLES WANYORO
By CHARLES WANYORO
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The Democratic Party has opposed calls for a referendum, saying the government should first address drought by taking steps such as allowing importation of maize.

The party's National Organising Secretary, Njagi Kumantha, said the plebiscite is not a priority since many people, especially in Embu, Tharaka Nithi and some parts of Meru, are facing hunger.

He said many areas of Mt Kenya received inadequate rainfall and that residents are grappling with a food shortage that might last up to January 2020.

IMPORTS

Mr Kumantha, who contested for the Embu governor seat, said the government should allow the importation of maize to cushion Kenyans from the effects of drought.

“We want a normal import procedure which is taxed so that people have enough to eat. We have a big problem since the rains came late and didn’t last long enough for crops to mature," he said on Friday.

“The next rains are expected in October, meaning the earliest we can get crops is January. People are staring at a difficult six months."

CIVIC EDUCATION

The party official also said the government should educate the public on the referendum to ensure the process is understood and that no money is wasted.

Responding after the IEBC announced receipt of 1.2million signatures collected by the Punguza Mizigo initiative in support of a referendum, Dr Kumantha called for restraint on the issue.

He said those pushing for the referendum have not conducted civic education so they should spell out the matters they want addressed and organise debates so the people understand all issues.

IEBC'S CAPABILITY

Dr Kumantha also questioned the ability of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to carry out a credible referendum as currently constituted.

He called for an overhaul to restore public confidence in the institution.

“The IEBC is currently a one-man show in the name of Wafula Chebukati. There are two others but they are never heard. I don’t think IEBC can give us a credible exercise. We are very ill prepared to carry out a referendum,” he said.