Deputy President William Ruto and his allies now want the BBI referendum pushed to 2022 and Uhuru is in copy.
The legislators, after a meeting with Ruto at his Karen home on Wednesday, said the current resources earmarked for BBI related activities should be directed to Covid-19 mitigation measures and supporting the recovery of micro and small enterprises.
The Tangatanga legislators said the BBI recommendations do not propose a constitutional replacement through the repeal and promulgation but rather an amendment on various discreet provisions.
“This calls into question the appropriateness of framing the referendum as a single question. Multiple issues must be considered as a multiple choice referendum and is clearly more appropriate and as provided for in the current bill before Parliament,” Garissa Township MP Aden Duale said.
Duale added, “We feel we
should take that route. We must consider the circumstance in which we find ourselves as a country; we are in the midst of a deadly pandemic that has killed close to 1,500 Kenyans including our frontline health workers, infecting nearly a 100,000 Kenyans and affecting the livelihoods of millions of others”.
He said as a result, the situation has strained the public health sector and instigated an economic and financial meltdown deepening the financial quagmire which has led to the destruction of livelihoods of enterprises owned mainly by ‘hustlers’.
“We are haunted by the reality that we are yet to create confidence in our education system’s ability to make school safe enough for our children to resume school in January because of the myriad challenges facing the entire education and school system which has remained largely unaddressed,” he said.
“It is legitimate to question the wisdom of spending Sh14 billion a year before an election that will cost us another Sh42 billion going by the 2017 figures of the IBC when our referendum can be conducted as the seventh ballot in a general election at virtually no cost,” Duale said.
He said the group believes that it’s prudent to hold the referendum when the only remaining item is for the citizens to vote in.
“We can defer that and we feel it’s prudent to hold that referendum along with a general election in 2022,” Duale said.
His sentiments were echoed by Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa who said the country must avoid an acrimonious referendum that holds the potential to break the head.
“Ethnic polarisation and conflict, cognisant that we are in the midst of a deadly pandemic that has ravaged our country with a struggling economy,
which is on the verge of full-scale collapse. We have not built the capacity to handle the huge risk that comes with reopening of schools as well as tremendous financial outlay required to enhance school facilities in this Covid phase,” she said.
She added, “After broad consultation and robust deliberation with a wide spectrum of various stakeholders on the matter of the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020, we appreciate the good proposal in the Amendment Bill and also acknowledge the positive effort met in accommodating various concerns relating to outstanding issues as indicative of progress towards consensus with the progress we are making in building consensus on important constitutional institutional, and administrative changes”.
Jumwa said all resources earmarked for BBI related activities should therefore be directed to Covid mitigation measures and supporting the recovery of micro and small enterprises.
“As a part of the consensus, we will be asking for clear directions on issues of land and historical injustice,” she said.
According to the legislators, the consensus is the right thing to do and the right way to go.
“We must therefore never tire or give up doing the right thing, consensus entails both speaking and listening and we must listen to one another. The time is always right for consensus building. Therefore, we submit once more, that it is never too late to do the right thing,” the statement read.
The group said the consensus they seek for the country’s needs is in relation to the content process and timing.
“In short, we must agree on what, the how and when the consensus is to align the process with its founding objectives and bring it closer to the dreams and aspirations of Kenyans by content. We mean we resolve outstanding issues through consensus including issues on Judiciary independence, bloated government and legislature equity and equality in the presentation and affirmative action, among others,” read part of the statement.
It further read, “By timing, we mean we should hold a referendum in 2022 together with a general election in order to save costs are the direct available resources to mitigating the effects of Covid-19”.