EXPERT COMMENT

Why Kenya doesn't need referendum

BBI report has no requirements that need endorsement in public vote

In Summary

Kenya doesn't have referendum law just yet

Referendum campaigns will be costly and divisive

National Assembly Leader of Majority Aden Duale has lost his elder sister to cancer. /COURTESY
National Assembly Leader of Majority Aden Duale has lost his elder sister to cancer. /COURTESY

Unfortunately, even before Kenyans have fully internalised the report, debate is already picking on whether to have the recommendations of the report implemented through a referendum or through parliamentary initiative.

However, debate should be informed by facts. Fact number one: Are those calling for referendum aware that for you to go to a referendum it has to relate to matters touching Article 255 of the Constitution? Have those people calling for a referendum read the report to see whether it contains matters relating to Article 255 of the Constitution. I did not see any of these in the report. So those shouting referendum should first read the Constitution and the report concurrently.

Fact number two: Are those calling for a referendum aware that there exists no referendum law to govern the process? This is similar to calling people to eat, when you have no firewood or food to cook.

 

Fact number three: Are those calling for a referendum aware of the cost of conducting one amidst the tough economic times facing this country? Would you rather spend and waste billions of shillings on matters that do not require referendum instead of using the same billions to provide services to Kenyans?

Fact number four: Are those calling for a referendum aware that Article 257 of the Constitution, which provides for amendment of the Constitution through popular initiative that ends up in referendum, that there exists no law to govern the legal vacuum that arise from Article 257 of the Constitution? Want to know more on this? Ask Ekuru Akot. He has more experience on how his Punguza Mzigo ended on a death knell through Article 257 of the Constitution.

Fact number five: Are those calling for a referendum aware of the polarisation referendum campaigns are likely to cause? Are those calling for a referendum aware of the effect such campaigns are likely to do to our economy through disruptions of businesses?

One cannot therefore understand whether those calling for a referendum are doing so out of ignorance or mere hypocrisy with a hidden agenda. Whereas it is their right to call for a referendum, anyone with Kenyans in mind cannot be heard even whispering in the dark the word referendum or even in Kiswahili Kura ya Mamuuzi! 

Amidst all the calls for a referendum which in my view are just distraction tactics, we must be cautious not to allow the BBI Report to be just another report that shall gather dust somewhere in a locker! We have been there before!

The writer is Leader of Majority in the National Assembly