Referendum talk risky, says Mudavadi - Daily Nation

Referendum talk obscuring key problems, Mudavadi warns

Sunday February 17 2019

ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi

Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi during a service at House of Grace church along Lang'ata Road in Nairobi on February 17, 2019. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By COLLINS OMULO
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Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi has warned that the ongoing call for a referendum in the country could lead to division.

Mr Mudavadi said politicians have monopolised the clamour for a plebiscite at the expense of the majority of Kenyans who should own and be part of the process.

He said it was high time discussions around the referendum were all-inclusive, not seemingly reserved for the political elite.

“We must make sure discussions around the referendum do not become a divisive debate," he said on Sunday after a service at House of Grace along Lang’ata Road in Nairobi.

"As politicians, we do not have the monopoly on what ails the country. There are other Kenyans who have solutions on what affects the country. In fact, politicians are more of a problem than a solution in certain circumstances."

YOUTHS

Mr Mudavadi, one of the four principals of the National Super Alliance, explained that about 80 percent of Kenya’s population is made up of the youth, those aged 35 years and below, yet they are not involved in the process.

He also noted that their plight is not put forward as part of what needs reviewing.

“As we talk about changing the law, I want that 80 percent of the population to be involved. In all these debates around the Constitution, and even in the framework of the Building Bridges Initiative, where is the face of the 80 percent of Kenya’s population ... Where is it?”

UNEMPLOYMENT

The ANC party leader also touched on unemployment, saying it is massive as more than eight million able men and women do not have jobs.

He also spoke of pressure in critical public facilities in the health and education sectors, pointing out that politicians are not concerned how to address the problems but on how a change in the Constitution will benefit them.

“Let the Kenyan people start asking us politicians talking about the referendum what is in it for them as the majority. Those answers must start coming out, and how do they come out? They will come out through an inclusive process, not a process perceived to be for a few people,” he said.

DEBT CRISIS

Mr Mudavadi further said that though the National Treasury has admitted the country is in a debt crisis, no one is talking about a change of law to ensure the government of does not go on a reckless borrowing spree that undermines the nation.

“In this call for a referendum, how are we addressing the concern about massive public debt? The Treasury kept on hiding that we do not have a debt crisis but the same Treasury has now admitted that there is a crisis," said the ANC leader.

“If we are changing the law, how do we change it to make sure we do not find ourselves in a similar situation?"

IEBC

The former deputy premier also asked Kenyans not to forget to reflect on the electoral agency even as the talks of changing parts of the Constitution gather pace.

Mr Mudavadi noted that the exercise will be presided over by the same referee - the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) - "which is not properly constituted and lacks confidence amongst the majority of the people".

He said it should undergo changes before the country has the referendum because constitutionally, it is the IEBC that must conduct the exercise, the risk being that is will "land into problems".

“Everyone is talking about the referendum so they have forgotten about the referee. Are we satisfied that the IEBC as currently constituted is able to conduct a referendum that will genuinely reflect the wishes of the people of Kenya? That is the fundamental question. Once we have sorted this one out we can go on,” he said.