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Kenya’s big political parties have no reason to demonise Punguza Mizigo

Sunday August 4 2019

Third Way Alliance Kenya leader Ekuru Aukot

Third Way Alliance Kenya party leader Ekuru Aukot speaks outside the Murang'a County Assembly on July 30, 2019 when he presented his Punguza Mizigo Bill. He said the National Assembly will not determine its fate once it gets the backing of 24 counties. PHOTO | NDUNG'U GACHANE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

KWENDO OPANGA
By KWENDO OPANGA
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Caught out as lethargic and elitist, Kenya's big four political parties have scrambled to demonise Thirdway Alliance Kenya for making change of the Constitution, inclusivity, fiscal prudence and devolution, Ekuro Aukot-occupied territories.

They are telling Kenyans not to support Thirdway's change-the-Constitution Bill popularly known as Punguza Mizigo. But they are not demolishing Thirdway's 16 proposals for improving the Constitution.

SMALL POTATOES

Do not tell Kenyans not to support Punguza Mizigo because the IEBC is a suspicious entity. It is the only polls umpire. So point out to Kenyans what is suspect about Punguza Mizigo.

 Ignore Punguza Mizigo because there is a better bill on the way from the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), say the big four. They should remember that Punguza Mizigo Bill is on the table and BBI's is unpublished and therefore an unknown entity.

The big four are calling Thirdway a small party whose leader Aukot refused to boycott the court-ordered rerun of the 2017 presidential poll.

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But they are not telling Kenyans why Punguza Mizigo is small potatoes by demonstrating the smallness of this bill; showing how this renders its ideas small.

The foursome proffer President Kenyatta and his newfound political brother Odinga favour BBI's expected bill. It is Kenyans who will want or reject Punguza Mizigo or BBI or both.

You cannot argue that unborn BBI is the people's choice and living Punguza Mizigo is not. BBI is, after all, an issue of an exclusive contract between Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga. BBI's 14-person team was handpicked by the two to address their post-election aggrievement and aggrandisement.

But the one million-plus signatures supporting Punguza Mizigo, is expansive publicly expressed proof of the popularity of the contract between Thirdway and the populace.

The big four are urging county assemblies not to read and debate Punguza Mzigo or, much less, pass it! They must read the bill because the reason for debates is to test the strengths of arguments and standpoints.

If ward representatives do not read Thirdway's bill, they cannot be expected to read BBI's. When you tell MCAs not to read, you invite them to quit thinking. You are telling them the party will tell them what to think. And you are saying comparisons count for nothing!

Yet per making the electoral ward the focus of representation and engine of development; tackling overrepresentation; and reducing the fiscal burden on Kenyans, Punguza Mizigo makes a forceful argument for rethinking the Constitution.

GRASSROOTS-UP MODEL

Why? Because it is a genuine people-inspired attempt at revamping Constitution. Second, this is done with a view to entrenching inclusivity as the byword for personal, household, regional and national development.

Thirdway is saying if the family is the basic unit in the growth of Kenya, then, regarding economic, political and social growth, the family is the ward. Per Thirdway, because politics is about development, the two must be founded and grounded in the ward in a grassroots-up model.

Thirdway is therefore proposing to entrench devolution further and to expand the involvement and participation of the people in making decisions about their resources.

Quite apart from bringing more Kenyans into the decision making ambit, Thirdway is proposing that the annual allocation to the counties be increased from 15 per cent of national revenue to 35. Governors had good reason for launching the Pesa Mashinani campaign in 2015.

And the county shall be the unit for national representation, with each electing two Members, a man and a woman, to the National Assembly. I disagree with formula and capacity. I propose 250 constituencies of 200,000 people each.

Thirdway is unchallenged on inclusivity. Therefore, a call to ignore Punguza Mizigo is a call to exclude Kenyans.

Unsurprisingly, the big four see inclusivity as expanding the Executive to create fat cat and top dog jobs and pile on yet one more layer of government. So, who regards you as a beast of burden?

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