PUNGUZA MIZIGO BILL

'They' butchered Aukot's dog

A classic case of giving a dog a bad name, and then killing it.

In Summary
  • He wasn’t giving and taking. He was taking away steak from the claws of politicians who occupy elective offices.
  • There were no concessions to a class that has always held wananchi hostage

Third Alliance Party leader Ekuru Aukot is right, but he is also wrong: His dog was given a bad name, and then killed without care or caution, fear or favour.

The canine was butchered merciless, severed callously, bungled, and then mangled. The sadism does not surprise. But Aukot is wrong to claim the dog was killed to spite him - the son of a pastoralist-peasant from the backwaters of arid Turkana. Even the Nyeri county in-laws of the son of a Turkana nomad trashed the Punguza Mizigo Bill.

The spite has less to do with Aukot's peasant pedigree. It is more of an impudent assault on Aukot's tactless, direct affront on lootocrats. You don't stand in front of a randy buffalo and hope to get away unscathed. The fate of the Bill was expected because the civil-activist-turned politician lacked tack in dealing with a mendacious political class. The wannabe presidential candidate wasn't giving and taking. He was taking away steak from the claws of politicians who occupy elective offices.

 
 

There were no concessions to a class that has always held wananchi hostage. He was peeling off privileges from certified exploiters of gullible masses. A rebel document of a cutting-cost-order, would not find favour with agents of the status quo. People aboard the gravy train cannot drop off just like that - at the tabling of a Bill.

The fate of the Bill would have been different if the Punguza Mizigo adventure was taken to the people directly, before developing it into a Bill. There was no buy-in at the grassroots. The people weren't incited to down the burden.

The fate of the Bill would have been different if the Punguza Mizigo adventure was taken to the people directly, before developing it into a Bill. There was no buy-in at the grassroots. The people weren't incited to down the burden.

Things would have turned out differently if Bunge la Wananchi had handled the cause to reduce the tax burden on wananchi. Bunge la Wanyama - County assemblies and their higher kindred - are not expected to decimate their obnoxious privileges.

Punguza Mizigo sought key changes to the 2010 Constitution. It began with seeking one million signatures from registered voters to set the initiative on a popular trajectory. But the collapse of the Bill calls to doubt the authenticity of the signatures, and more so, how they passed IEBC verification. But again MCAs don't take instructions from wananchi once aboard the gravy train.

The Bill sought to reduce the number of MPs, cut nomination slots, establish a one-term seven-year presidency, cap president's salary at Sh500,000, trim MPs' pay at Sh300,000, and scrap positions of the Deputy Governor, among other changes.

The cumulative cuts would have saved the economy Sh3.78 trillion in five years. The savings would ease the burden of tired tax-paying donkeys. Only two counties, Uasin Gishu, and Aukot's Turkana backyard passed the Bill, probably in solidarity with their eminent son. But the Bill needed the approval of 24 of 47 counties to jump the first legislative hurdle. Uasin Gishu was among the first to table and pass it. It was hoped other Jubilee-friendly counties would fall in line. Thirty-two counties, so far, including Nandi, Baringo, Narok, and Nakuru have rejected the Bill.

There is no denying wananchi carry a heavy tax burden to finance the opulence of surfeit State officers. But beneficiaries of the booty cannot be expected to lead a cost-cutting initiative. They cannot undermine their own pockets and stomachs. Members of County Assemblies crashed Punguza Mizigo Bill to protect their steak. But they hid under protecting devolution to spite the otherwise patriotic initiative.

Cynics linked Punguza Mizigo to the Jubilee faction associated with Deputy President William Ruto. They framed it as an attempt to counter the Building Bridges Initiative, an offshoot of the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and the People's President Raila Odinga.

 
 

There is no denying wananchi carry a heavy tax burden to finance the opulence of surfeit State officers. But beneficiaries of the booty cannot be expected to lead a cost-cutting initiative. They cannot undermine their own pockets and stomachs. Members of County Assemblies crashed Punguza Mizigo Bill to protect their steak. But they hid under protecting devolution to spite the otherwise patriotic initiative.

Each of the 4,000 MCAs earn about Sh25,000 daily. The Office of the Controller of Budget reports Narok County, in the heart of the semi-arid land of the Maa people, spent about Sh765,639 monthly, or Sh9,187,668 per year, to whet the soaring appetite of a single MCA.

Arid Taveta county spent about Sh722,292 a month, or Sh8,667,504 a year, on each ward representative to assuage their greed for superfluous allowances.

An ill-educated, and scantily trained MCA's daily take in allowances is the average salary of a nurse in a public hospital. Such health facilities suffer huge staff shortfalls because the Government cannot sustain the huge wage bill. But the same Government wastes billions of shillings annually to entertain dysfunctional politicos.

The fall of Punguza Mizigo has enraged its architect. Aukot blames the killing of the Bill on propaganda, alleged bribery of ward representatives, and a hostile reception from movers of national politics and their allies.

The fate of the Punguza Mizigo Bill is a classic case of giving a dog a bad name and then killing it.