Jubilee Alliance Senators withdraw from ‘seized’ referendum
NAIROBI; KENYA: Senators from the Jubilee Alliance have formally pulled out of moves to hold a referendum to ostensibly strengthen devolution noting their well intentioned efforts had been hijacked by people with ill motives.
The Senators who held a lengthy meeting with the Deputy President William Ruto pointed out that they had carefully analysed the mood in the country and realized that Kenyans were yearning for operationalization of devolution and its resultant economic benefits but not a referendum.
Addressing the media at the official residence of the Deputy President in Karen on Monday, the leader of majority in the Senate Prof Kithure Kindiki said areferendum at this point in time would undermine its agenda as Jubilee.
“It will distract devolution and unnecessarily occupy county governments with politics at this nascent time of the Jubilee government,” he added.
Emphasising the issue of the referendum was originally Jubilee’s, Prof Kindiki said it was unfortunate that it had been hijacked by external forces who had deviated from its original purpose of strengthening the country governments and having more resources devolved to the counties.
“In any case”, he added, “The law says not less than 15 per cent of the last audited accounts approved by Parliament will be devolved to the counties, but the Jubilee government has pushed it to 32 per cent which translates to Khs. 210 billion this year without going for a referendum. We don’t therefore require a referendumto take to 40 per cent,” he added.
Prof Kindiki went on to say that they agreed that the Senate will unbundle and cost the resources being devolved to the counties in a more scientific manner and have a smoother allocation next year.
He acknowledged that there were challenges between the way the senate and the national assembly related but hastened to add that because Jubilee controlled the majority in both houses any issues will be resolved speedily.
Speaking at the function the Deputy President reaffirmed that the Jubilee government will progressively devolve resources to the counties up to 40 per cent within the next two years without the necessity of the much talked about referendum.
Ruto said the executive will support any input required from them to ensure smooth and seamless passage of legislation.
He re-emphasised the commitment of the Jubilee government to the success of devolution and agreed that the scientific data that will be used next year for allocation of resources will help resolve some of the outstanding issues in devolution. “We shall ensure sufficient oversight to assist the county governments deliver on their mandate,” he added.
In response to a question as to how Jubilee will counter moves by the opposition to push for areferendum, Ruto said he expected Jubilee elected officials to engage their counterparts in CORD not stop putting the country in another circle of election.
Senator Kipchumba Murkomen who is also the chairman of the senate committee on devolution said the senate will continue to protect counties from political willy dealers cautioning that revenue allocation should not be used to muddy the devolution waters.