Jubilee at a crossroads over referendum calls

Monday October 1 2018

Maina Kamanda

Long-serving MP Maina Kamanda’s speech that Kikuyus are not for sale politically at the burial of Benga musician Joseph Kamaru on Thursday sent shock waves across Mt Kenyatta region. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NATION TEAM
By NATION TEAM
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Calls for a referendum to reduce the number of elected representatives in the country has divided Jubilee Party, with MPs allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta backing the plebiscite push that is opposed by his deputy William Ruto.

While Mr Ruto has insisted that a referendum was not a priority for the ruling party, more and more MPs are coming out to back the calls for the reopening of the Constitution the deputy president had opposed in 2010.

Yesterday, nominated MP Maina Kamanda joined a growing list of MPs who want the referendum to go on, saying the cost of running the 2010 Constitution was too much, and should be addressed.

SUPPORTERS

In Ol-Joro Orok, Nyandarua County, MPs who threw their weight behind the calls for referendum and law changes were Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Michael Muchira (Ol-Joro Orok), Subukia’s Kinuthia Gachobe, Kimani Kuria of Molo, Faith Gitau (Nyandarua Women Rep), Patrick Mariru of Laikipia West, Mr Patrick Munene (Chuka-Igamba-Ng’ombe) and Mathioya’s Peter Kimari.

“Some of these positions in the county governments should be reduced as they amount to duplication of roles and have continued to burden Wanjiku,” Ms Gitau said during a funds drive at Huho-Ini Catholic Church attended by the MPs.

While he supported calls to reduce the number of elected representatives, Mr Kuria told off opposition leader Raila Odinga against pushing for the creation of the PM’s position and introduction of a parliamentary system of governance.

“We know that there are some leaders who want to take advantage of the constitution amendments and push for the creation of some non-existing positions. They should forget this because it will not be possible,” the Gatundu South MP said.

DEMAND

In Nairobi, Mr Kamanda told off National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale over his comments against a proposed referendum to relook at the 2010 Constitution.

Mr Kamanda said that Mr Duale’s comments were misplaced as Kenyans “want this referendum like tomorrow”.

“Let Duale not attempt to say that this referendum is about Raila Odinga. It is not. This thing is supported by people everywhere, even in Jubilee. We have seen the burden of this Constitution,” Mr Kamanda told the Nation in Nairobi.

Mr Duale has in the past three days opposed the proposal to have a referendum to alter Kenya’s political landscape.

“Jubilee Party will not be involved in the debate about reducing the number of electoral seats until it gets direction from President Uhuru Kenyatta. Our prime focus is on the Big Four Agenda,” Mr Duale said on Twitter on Sunday.

ELECTION

Mr Duale’s position on the plebiscite is also the same one taken by his colleague in the Senate Kipchumba Murkomen.

“Those pushing for the review of the constitution want to change the form of leadership so that it can favour them in their political ambitions. Perennial losers should stop dragging us into reviewing the constitution to suit them,” Mr Murkomen said in Kabarak at the home of former elections officer Thomas Letangule.

In Tharaka Nithi, Senator Kithure Kindiki, deputy governor Nyamu Kagwima and Chuka-Igambang'ombe MP Patrick Munene are crusading for the constitutional changes while Governor Muthomi Njuki is against it - arguing that it is being instigated by some politicians with 2022 presidential ambitions to gauge their popularity.

Prof Kindiki said Kenyans are suffering because a lot of the country’s revenue goes to paying salary to government employees as the rest of people lack basic things.

WAGE BILL

Separately in a proposal to curb the rising cost of running the government, the Dr Ekuru Aukot-led Thirdway Alliance proposed a Sh2 billion referendum to install 194 members of the National Assembly and the Senate down from the current 416, the abolishment of the posts of chief administrative secretary and county and regional commissioners, processes they said will save Kenya Sh31.8 billion and Sh5 billion per year respectively.

Dr Aukot also wants the president to stop the use of his private jet and instead use the national carrier Kenya Airways, on his foreign trips, as well as the scrapping 27 foreign missions.

He is further proposing that salaries for state officials be capped at Sh500, 000 inclusive of allowances for the president, and Sh300, 000 for members of Parliament, also inclusive of allowances.

Reports by Patrick Lang’at, Steve Njugunah, Alex Njeru, and Florah Koech