Hold referendum in 2022 - MP

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua engages local leaders during a public participation forum on Saturday. /EUTYCAS MUCHIRI
Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua engages local leaders during a public participation forum on Saturday. /EUTYCAS MUCHIRI

A referendum on the Constitution should be held in 2022 together with the General Election, Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua has proposed.

This would reduce the cost of the referendum, Gachagua said on Saturday. It is needless to spend Sh12 billion on the exercise alone, he said.

According to him, the resources should be put in development projects instead.

He spoke in Ruguru ward in his Mathira constituency during a public participation for 1,000 grassroots level and opinion leaders on a water project in the area.

“Kenyans should choose their preferred leaders first then proceed to vote on the referendum question so as to cut on costs,” Gachagua said.

Pushing the proposed plebiscite to 2022 would give elected leaders time to fulfill the pledges they made to voters during the 2017 campaigns. President Kenyatta will use the opportunity to implement his Big Four Agenda, the MP said.

The legislator said the Big Four agenda may not be realised fully if campaigns for a referendum start now or next year, followed by elections in 2022.

He said it is too early for Kenyans to be engaged in another campaign, taking into account that they just came from elections a year ago.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Thursday hinted that a referendum could be held this year.

“This year is going to be a year of change in this country. We want to look at our governance structures and see what needs to be rectified,” he said. But Gachagua said he would oppose any referendum meant to create extra seats. He would only support one that will reduce the tax burden on citizens. The MP said there is a need to listen to the views of citizens, collate them and let the decision be made by Kenyans.

“These people say if there will be a change of the Constitution, it must be to lessen their burden. Anything that will increase their burden, they will reject. And that is the mood on the ground here,” Gachagua said.

“The people are having a very difficult time economically and they would want a change that will make their lives better and lessen their burden.”

Deputy President William Ruto has said the country cannot afford a census and referendum at a go.