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Why Jubilee will not present memo to Building Bridges team

Head of the Jubilee Party secretariat Raphael Tuju during a press conference at the ruling coalition's headquarters in Pangani, Nairobi, March 18, 2017. /MONICAH MWANGI
Head of the Jubilee Party secretariat Raphael Tuju during a press conference at the ruling coalition's headquarters in Pangani, Nairobi, March 18, 2017. /MONICAH MWANGI

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party will not present a memorandum to the Building Bridges team.

The party has instead asked its members to individually share their opinions with the Wajir Senator Yusuf Haji-led committee.

The feeling in the party, insiders say, is that presenting a memorandum would have appeared as dictating the Building Bridges task force.

Jubilee also feels that had it presented the memorandum, the move might widen the cracks in the party.

Whereas President Uhuru Kenyatta had intimated that a referendum will be inevitable, Deputy President William Ruto's allies have opposed the proposal.

The President, during Jamhuri Day celebrations last year, said the country must rethink its current executive structure 'where the winner takes it all'.

There was also a concern that the party’s presentation would be misconstrued as the government's position on the proposed changes, a source told the Star yesterday.

While a number of party members have agreed with the decision, others felt it would have been better if the party presented a position to the Building Bridges team.

North Mugirango MP Joash Nyamoko told the Star on the phone that it was wrong for the party to take such a decision without members’ input.

He said doing away with such consultations does not give justice to the issues that the Building Bridges committee is discussing with Kenyans.

The Bridges team was formed after the March 9, 2018, handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Nasa leader Raila Odinga.

The 14-member committee has been collecting views from Kenyans on how to unite the country.

The issues revolve around ethnic antagonism, lack of national ethos, inclusivity, devolution, divisive elections, security, corruption, shared prosperity, and responsibility.

“From a realistic point of view, Building Bridges Initiative was a result of two large parties – Jubilee and ODM, and it would have been better if all of them presented their stand on the issues,” Nyamoko said.

He added that Kenyans who back Jubilee would be interested in the party’s thoughts on how best to end the chaos that the country experiences in every election cycle.

“The party is misguided. What BBI is handling is about the country. Jubilee has over 60 per cent representation, hence should have more say.”

But Secretary General Raphael Tuju yesterday told the Star that giving members a chance to present their views has more merits than when the party could have taken a stand.

“Our members could be having diverse views which they can now freely present to the committee.”

Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura backed Tuju’s assertions saying members will not claim they were gagged from giving their views.

“It is the democratic right of our members to give their views to the committee. They can do so during the county visits or during a formal session with the BBI committee,” he told the Star on the phone.

The legislator supports the idea of expanding the executive and strengthening the Senate to make it ‘the real Upper House it should be’.

The committee held sittings in Laikipia yesterday as it continued to take views on the 9-point agenda of the handshake.

It has been to Kitui, Machakos, Meru, Embu, Kilifi, and Mombasa. They have also held sessions with union leaders and a number of consultants in Nairobi.

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, ostensibly privy to the Jubilee Party’s plan, presented his memorandum to the Bridges team last Friday.

He wants the executive arm of government expanded to include a Prime Minister, two deputy Prime Ministers, the President, and Deputy President.

In the radical proposal, Kuria also wants the position of nominated Senators and MCAs scrapped and that Senators be county assembly speakers.

An ODM committee led by executive director Oduor Ong’wen had proposed a three-tier government structure based on a parliamentary system.

In the proposal, the party wants a Prime Minister appointed by the majority party and a president elected by the people.

The party proposed the creation of 14 regional blocs instead of the current 47 county governments.

However, a source told Star that the party’s Central Management Committee almost shot down the three-tier proposal.

The dissidents were implored upon to give it a chance given that Raila had been in the forefront agitating for the same.

The committee also proposed the reduction of the size of the current national assembly from 349 MPs to 180.

Of the 180, the party will consider a proposal that 120 be elected and the remaining 60 to join Parliament through proportional representation.

The party’s committee further proposed the scrapping of the current 12 nominated MPs.

There was, however, no proposal to reduce the number of MCAs but sought that Senate is composed of 29 members and the same empowered as the Upper House.

According to the proposal, each of the 14 regions will elect two senators -male and female, the Speaker shall be the 29th member.

On the Parliamentary system, ODM is studying the France, South Africa, and Tanzania models.

The Orange party has also proposed that the 45 per cent allocation to devolved units divided so that 13.5 percent goes to regions, 26.5 percent to counties and five percent to the Ward Development Fund.

The party has created a team comprising Minority leader John Mbadi, Senate Minority leader James Orengo, and National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed to fine-tune its proposal to the Building Bridges task force.

They have up to three weeks to present a final document before the CMC chaired by Raila.

In an earlier interview, Martin Kimani – one of the secretaries of the BBI, told the Star they are optimistic of completing the task within the set deadline.

The committee, as stated in a gazette notice establishing the same, is expected to finish its work by end of June.

He said the task force has already received proposals from organisations, institutions, and individuals.

Kimani said they wouldn’t want to rush the hearings as the process’ objective is to get as many views as possible. "We are focused to meet the deadline."