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ODM dismisses 'Punguza Mizigo' referendum

Thursday July 25 2019
Sifuna

ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna during a past event. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By LEONARD ONYANGO

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has rejected Thirdway Alliance Party’s Punguza Mizigo referendum bill arguing that it has failed to address structure of government and public debt.

ODM politicians have been fronting proposal to have the Executive expanded to include the position of a powerful prime minister.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga have also hinted at having an expanded Executive that will accommodate all communities.

The proponents of the proposal argue that the expanded Executive will end the current winner-takes-all system that has been blamed for chaos witnessed after every election.

In a statement issued Thursday by ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna, the party poked holes in Punguza Mizigo Bill saying it has not addressed issues of public interest such as conflict of interest where public servants trade with the state, electoral injustice, independence of investigative and strengthening Chapter 6 of the Constitution.

Mr Sifuna said the Dr Ekuru Aukot-led party did not collect views from Kenyans before drafting the bill which has already been forwarded to all 47 county assemblies for consideration.

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“Constitution making or amendment must always be people driven and result from the widest possible consultations with Kenyans of all walks of life which third way did not bother to attempt,” said Mr Sifuna.

“A proposer for a constitutional amendment through popular initiative has the option under article 257 to put forth general suggestions in the first instance whereupon the Public and other stakeholders would have opportunity to input, refine and enrich their proposals.

"Thirdway chose to forego this and went straight to prepare a bill with their proposals which bill was the basis for collection of signatures,” he added.

According to ODM, the Punguza Mizigo Bill has not provided measures on how to reduce public debt that is burdening Kenyans.

“The bill claims to be targeting expenditure sites that burden the Kenyan public but doesn’t even mention the real areas of concern.  The biggest cause of burden to the Kenyan taxpayer is debt which currently stands at Sh.5.3 trillion

“It would have been helpful to propose mechanisms to control runaway borrowing such as a requirement for parliamentary approval of all foreign borrowing,” said Mr Sifuna.

The Mr Odinga-led party also argues that the Punguza Mizigo Bill is meant to hamper gains already made in terms of women representation both in Parliament and county assemblies.

ODM also has faulted to have the 290 constituencies scraped saying it will ignite tribal animosity.

“ Having parliamentary representation at county level goes against the dictum of “No taxation without representation." Long standing grievances of domination by larger tribes and clans in the past informed Kenyans desire to review the constituencies in the 2010 c9onstitution. These fears were well captured in the CKRC Report and the Report of the CoE and also well-articulated during the Bomas process,” said Mr Sifuna.

“The Bill proposes to give the Senate veto powers over the decisions of the National Assembly. This power resides with the President and since Aukot’s Bill does not likewise amend Article 115 that gives the President power to refer bills back to the National Assembly, this proposal is recipe for chaos,” he added.

ODM has also criticised the proposal to  abolish the position of deputy governor saying it will not help to solve the issue of wage bill.

The Opposition argues that elevating one member of the CEC to perform the functions of principal assistant to the governor would result in the same costs but with reduced accountability since the said CEC member would serve at the pleasure of the governor.

“It is paradoxical that the Bill seeks to abolish the position of the DG but leaves that of Deputy President yet their establishments were premised on the same logic,” said Mr Sifuna.

The proposal by Thirdway Alliance  to have Auditor General forward audits to the DPP and DCI within five days of completion of audit without amending Article 226 (2) which requires the AG to submit reports to the people’s representatives, said Mr Sifuna, would create an avenue for confusion and chaos.

“The proposal to try corruption suspects within 30 days is but a recipe for setting corruption suspect free. Corruption webs are normally so complex that concluding the trials within 30 days is no mean feat,” he added.

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