• The verification exercise is expected to go on for two weeks.
• The initiative seeks to address over-representation and to reduce the number of MPs from the current 416 to 147.
The IEBC yesterday began verifying the 1.4 million signatures collected by the "Punguza Mizigo" initiative team.
Ekuru Aukot's Thirdway Alliance is seeking one million signatures to push for a constitutional amendment to reduce the number of MPs from 416 to 147 and ease the burden on taxpayers.
The verification, which was launched in the presence of party agents, observers and officials, is expected to go on for two weeks.
Aukot said, "We have our agents and observers so we have no doubt the process is going to be seamless. We hope it will be completed in the shortest time possible because Kenyans are feeling the pain."
The party submitted the "Punguza Mizigo" (Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill, 2019) on February 28 alongside the signatures to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
The commission will submit the bill to the 47 county assemblies once it verifies the signatures. One million signatures are required to kick-start the process.
"As a party, we are confident the process will be independent, smooth and devoid of external interference," Aukot said.
Should 24 or more county assemblies approve the bill within three months, the stage will be set for the National Assembly and the Senate to either approve or reject it.
If it gets the backing of the majority of the two Houses, the bill will move for the Presidential Assent. But if it fails to sail through Parliament, the bill will be submitted to the people for a referendum.
"We hope we don't have to end up with a referendum. A referendum must be pegged on real issues. I am told some party is asking for money for a referendum but they have not presented any proposal to amend the Constitution so one wonders why they are asking for money," Aukot said.
“The people talking about a referendum are trying to push another cost on Kenyans. We can make this easy and less painful for the Kenyan taxpayer so we don't really need to go for a referendum."
"'Punguza Mizigo' is going to save Kenyans Sh3.78 trillion. Even the President should be able to embrace this because this is the real thing," Aukot said.
The first phase of the initiative started in April 2018. It proposes the abolishment of the 290 constituencies and instead using each of the 47 counties as a single constituency for purposes of parliamentary election to the Senate and the National Assembly.
It also seeks the reduction of the public wage bill, recurrent expenditure, the cost of running elections and registration of voters. The bill also focuses on devolution by taking services to the people’s doorsteps and putting an end to gender imbalance and inequality.
Thirdway Alliance seeks to demystify the presidency and end a culture of electoral violence associated with the power of incumbency.
IEBC acting CEO Marjan Hussein said, “We have deployed about 120 clerks in 12 teams and two supervisors. They have been trained on what they are supposed to do. We should be able to achieve the desired objectives by the close of two weeks."
This is not the first time there has been a push to reduce the number of MPs.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria in 2016 launched what he called the "Punguza Mzigo" referendum campaign.
His intention was to have the Senate, the Woman Rep and all the nominated MCAs slots scrapped through the proposed constitutional amendments.