LAW CHANGE DEBATE

Kenya's medicine is in BBI, not Punguza Mizigo

The drafters of the Punguza Mizigo Bill are counting to ride on the campaign’s populist provisions to victory but this is a miscalculation

In Summary

• On the face of it, the Punguza Mizigo rationale is sound but it goes off the rails on how it has proposed how to reduce the expenditure — reducing MPs from 416 to 194 and giving counties 35 per cent allocation of the national budget.

•  It does not make sense to have 194 MPs if anything for the simple reason this will give certain counties immense powers

Thirdway Alliance leader Ekuru Aukot addressing the County Assembly of Garissa
SABOTAGE: Thirdway Alliance leader Ekuru Aukot addressing the County Assembly of Garissa
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

Unlike the Punguza Mizigo Bill, which is going nowhere, the BBI proposals being refined show signs of great work to ensure nothing but success ahead.

To understand why BBI fares much better than the Punguza Mizigo Bill, you need to understand the rationale underlying each effort and then measure its chances of success against the obstacles each faces ahead.

In analysing all the available information from proponents of this Bill, it is clear their primary rationale is ostensibly to instil financial discipline in government and provide better and more effective management of public resources.

 

On the face of it, the Punguza Mizigo rationale is sound but it goes off the rails on how it has proposed how to reduce the expenditure — reducing MPs from 416 to 194 and giving counties 35 per cent allocation of the national budget.

As if these two alone were not enough to bury the Bill alive, the drafters have gone on to provide a laundry list of more than 30 changes to the Constitution, each of which is a nail in the coffin.

The drafters of the Bill may have rightly figured nearly all these provisions are and will be popular among Wanjikus but populism, by itself, is never a means to an end. Put another way, just because something is popular among the masses does not make it desirable, if the idea itself does not make sense.

It does not make sense to have 194 MPs if anything for the simple reason this will give certain counties immense powers and influence relative to their small populations, while diluting the voices of millions in heavily populated counties. That alone would be enough reason to vote down the bill but there is more.

When Uhuru and Raila famously made the handshake a household name, they made it clear then and since their primary objective is to see the country united and to part ways with the dark past.

BBI was then put in place to implement the handshake objectives, which are multi-pronged, covering a range of issues from ethnic strife, divisive elections, inclusivity, to corruption, national safety and shared prosperity.

However, unlike the Punguza Mizigo, which proposes more than 30 amendments, it is likely that the BBI will only propose a handful of provisions to address the most important sickness that ails the country — ethnic strife, divisive elections and inclusivity. The rest, including the myriad of proposals in Punguza Mizigo Bill that are achievable, can be pursued either administratively or by acts of Parliament.

 

The drafters of the Punguza Mizigo Bill are counting to ride on the campaign’s populist provisions to victory but this is a miscalculation. Although the Bill has thus far survived court challenges, the mines that lie ahead are such that it will not survive all of them.

The biggest test, of course, will be Parliament where, again, the Bill is drafted in a manner to attract senators’ support but shot down by members of the National Assembly for the simple reason they can’t be asked to sack themselves.

BBI, on the other hand, is carefully and strategically being put together with undoubtedly behind the scenes egging on by the President and Raila Odinga, who, even his most critic, would have to admit he knows a thing or two about how to mount a successful referendum — or kill one — as the case may be more than anyone in the country

In sum, a BBI referendum is soon upon us and will be a great success to start a new chapter in our beloved country’s history. In fact, it will be a new book.


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