DEBATE RESUMES TUESDAY

25 senators plot to defeat Uhuru, Raila proposals

Uhuru and Raila are staring at yet another humiliating defeat in the Senate.

In Summary

• Senators have vowed to defeat the controversial formula supported by President Kenyatta and Raila. 

• The debate on the controversial formula resumes on Tuesday with each camp boasting of numbers.

Senators, led by Kilifi's Stewart Madzayo, at Parliament Buildings on July 7. They said they will oppose the revenue sharing formula.
UNHAPPY: Senators, led by Kilifi's Stewart Madzayo, at Parliament Buildings on July 7. They said they will oppose the revenue sharing formula.
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM boss Raila Odinga are staring at another defeat in Senate after senators opposed to the county cash sharing formula vowed to reject it.

This emerged as a crunch meeting of the Senate leadership, the Treasury and other devolution actors held on Monday agreed Sh187 billion be released to the counties to save them from the paralysis occasioned by the revenue formula standoff.

The Star has established that the 25 senators who last week engineered the defeat of an amendment to defer the disputed formula by two years have plotted another elaborate plan to reject it in totality.

 
 
 
 
 

The amendment was sponsored by Majority Chief Whip Irungu Kang'ata (Murang’a) with the blessings of Uhuru and Raila.

With their number standing at 25, the opposing senators have surpassed the 24 threshold required to defeat the formula that would see 18 counties lose Sh17 billion.

The stalemate is full of political intrigue, with Deputy President William Ruto rallying his troops to reject the formula.

On Sunday, Raila met a section of Uhuru’s allies led by Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe at the Kajiado home of Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli.

At the meeting, Raila assured the President's side that he would rally his senators to support the formula.

 Siaya Senator James Orengo who is the Minority Leader was charged with bringing the leaders together.

“It is true we met with Raila to discuss, among other things, the disputed revenue sharing formula. We all agreed that the formula has to go through on Tuesday,” former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth who attended the meeting told the Star.

 
 
 
 
 

The Uhuru-Raila side requires only two additional senators to push through the controversial formula.

But lawmakers from Jubilee and Nasa opposed to the formula have insisted that they  want to be on the right side of history.

They have, however, alleged endless intimidation and coercion to sway them.

As part of their plan, they are armed with three formulas to counter the one proposed by the House Finance and Budget Committee.

One of the formulas whose debate resumes on Tuesday afternoon following last week’s adjournment is sponsored by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja. 

The formula ensures no county gets less money than the amount they received in the last financial year.

Some 18 counties will lose Sh17 billion in the formula proposed by the committee chaired by Kirinyaga Senator Charles Kibiru.

Senators from the 18 counties have opposed the formula, saying it will perpetuate marginalisation of their areas, and managed to convince seven others to back their agenda.

The losing counties are from less populous regions of Coast, Northeastern, lower Eastern and parts of the Rift Valley.

According to the plan, in the unlikely event that Sakaja’s formula is defeated, another method sponsored by Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina will immediately be introduced.

A third formula sponsored by Makueni’s Mutula Kilonzo is on standby should Ole Kina’s flop.

“It is a reinsurance. If Sakaja abandons, Mutula is there. And if Mutula abandons, Ole Kina is there. That is the plan,” Mutula, who is leading the camp opposing the formula, said.

The Star established that most of the lawmakers, especially the seven whose counties will gain under the disputed formula but are in solidarity with their losing colleagues, switched off their phones to avoid intimidation and coercion.

They are Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi) whose county will get Sh1.2 billion more from last year’s allocation, Cleophas Malala whose Kakamega county will gain Sh402 million and Sam Ongeri whose Kisii county will get an extra Sh162 million.

Others are Anuar Loitiptip (Lamu) who opposed the formula as a show of solidarity with his coast colleagues whose counties will lose despite his county gaining Sh96 million.

Kajiado’s Philip Mpayeei has also opposed the method despite his county getting Sh765 million more. Mpayeei is standing in solidarity with Narok which will lose while Machakos's Boniface Kabaka is standing with his Ukambani colleagues despite his county gaining Sh367 million.

“Lobbying has been in many forms. There is intimidation, money and many others. Senators are facing unknown pressure,” Mutula said.

On Monday, the seven senators said they will stand with their colleagues whose counties will lose revenue in the disputed formula.

“Kenyans should trust us, especially us the young politicians. History is being written and we want to be on the right side of history. We don’t want to dent our reputations,” Malala said.

He added, “I don’t want to talk much because if I do, some people think I am disrespecting them. But for them to be respected now, they have to be on the correct side of history. They stood with this country when it was in need of their help. So they should also allow us to stand with our country at our age because this is the time we are writing our history.”

Loitiptip said, “This is a very volatile matter. I cannot pre-empt anything. But what I can simply say is that my stand is there.”

Machakos’s Kabaka who is standing with Kitui and Makueni which will lose, said, “My stand is the same. It is a no. I have not changed.”

On Monday, it emerged that the Mutula, Sakaja and Ole Kina camp had won over the hearts of Meru Senator Mithika Linturi and Embu’s Njeru Ndwiga.

The two are said to stand with their neighbour Tharaka Nithi which will lose revenue in the proposed formula.

“Tomorrow (Monday) we shall once more shoot down the discriminatory formula meant to demean some parts of our nation and replace it with a fair approach to sharing of nationally raised revenue,” Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki said.

On Tuesday morning, they will meet in a Nairobi hotel to finalise their agenda ahead of the afternoon session.

On Monday, Kang'ata declined to comment on the contentious formula ahead of debate. Other proponents of the formula – Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio and Minority Leader James Orengo – remained mum on the matter as well.

But Laikipia Senator John Kinyua, a strong proponent of the formula, exuded confidence of a win for their side. 

“Tomorrow is the D-day. My stand is the same; one man, one vote, one shilling and will remain the same. This is the best formula we can ever have,” Kinyua said.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, whose county will be the biggest gainer, said, “They cannot fight the government. We are going to defeat the Sakaja formula and pass the committee report as it is.”

Meanwhile, a crucial meeting of the Senate leadership led by Speaker Kenneth Lusaka, Controller of Budget, Council of Governors, Attorney General and the Treasury held on Monday morning agreed in principle that the counties be given Sh187 billion.

The money includes Sh29 billion that was carried forward from the last financial year and Sh158 billion – part of the Sh316.5 billion allocated to the counties in the current financial year.

“We have agreed but there are legal concerns that the AG is looking at. For example, we cannot give the counties money in the current year unless the money is part of this year. So we are trying to address them,” CoB Margaret Nyakango said.

But Mutula Kilonzo Jr who attended the meeting said a Supreme Court ruling released recently indicated that counties should not be denied money, thus the Treasury and CoB are obligated to make the cash available.

The stalemate has stalled passage of the County Allocation of Revenue Bill, 2020 and the cash disbursement schedule to allow the counties access the funds.

The Bill spells out how the 47 counties splits the Sh316.5 billion allocated to them in 2020-21 budget while the disbursement schedule specifies the monthly releases to each county.

The two were supposed to be passed by June 30 to allow for release of cash to counties to enable them pay salaries and perform other functions.

Edited by Henry Makori