The referendum debate continues

Posted: August 27, 2013 in Politics/Current issues

Deputy President William Ruto addresses a press conference after meeting governors and senators at a past function

The calls for a referendum continue to intensify from both sides of the coalition. In a recent function at Riagongera Primary School in Bomachoge Chache constituency during the homecoming party for Kisii County Deputy Governor Joash Maangi, Deputy President William Ruto and Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto clashed publicly yet again over the same issue.

The referendum calls started when the former prime minister called for a referendum to be held before the next general elections. According to Raila Odinga, devolved governments will not be effective if some articles of the Constitution are not amended. He said some constitutional clauses needed amendment to enable devolution to be effective.

Last week on Tuesday, the Orange Democratic movement resolved to support a national referendum to establish the percentage of the national budget allocated to counties at no less than 40 per cent.

“We have noted that so far resources budgeted for the County governments fall far short of the needs of counties to implement their projects and programs for development to meet the needs of the people,” said party Secretary General Anyang Nyongo.

“The party will support a national referendum to establish the percentage of the national budget allocated to counties at no less than 40 per cent and to strengthen the role of the Senate to be an effective House representing the counties,” he said.

Governors, led by the chairman of the Governors council vowed to push on with their referendum agenda even as the Jubilee Coalition is opposed the move which has lately kicked off a stormy debate.

The debate has also caused a split among Jubilee Governors. Governors allied to President Kenyatta’s TNA have abandoned the campaign but county chiefs from Deputy President William Ruto’s URP vowed to soldier on.

According to chairman of the Governors council Isaac Ruto, the government’s promise to scale up the revenue allocation to counties to 40 per cent must be anchored in law and this can only be achieved through a referendum. He said they will be asking Kenyans in the referendum to vote for strengthening of the Senate so as to protect devolution in the country

The Deputy President William Ruto on the other hand has said calling for a referendum is a waste of resources and time.

A section of religious leaders have also added their voice to this debate. They are opposing calls for a referendum on the Constitution saying Kenyans are not ready for another poll.

Led by Archbishop Amos Kabuthu, African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa (AIPCA) leaders said the country does not have the money to hold a referendum.

“The Government should be given the opportunity to implement its manifesto. It is barley six months since Kenyans voted for this government,” he said

AIPCA Women Council Chairperson Bertha Mwangi said another election would polarise the country as Kenyans are yet to heal from the effects of the March 4 polls.

“It was just the other day that Kenyans went to the polls. Leaders should not call for things that will poison the minds of Kenyans. We must work towards uniting Kenyans and fostering development,” she advised.

Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) Secretary General Adan Wachu said the council was opposed to the issue of a referendum barely five months after the General Election, terming the move expensive and uncalled for.

Even as the debate continues, questions arise. Are the calls timely? Will a referendum affect the country’s stability? Are Kenyans ready for it?

 By Nixon Kanali,





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