BUILDING BRIDGES INITIATIVE

Referendum is not necessary for BBI

In Summary

• A referendum would cost almost as much as a general election, at least Sh10 billion

• The BBI Prime Minister would still report to and be jointly appointed by the President

President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga and other leaders during the BBI launch at the Bomas of Kenya on Wednesday, November 27, 2019.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga and other leaders during the BBI launch at the Bomas of Kenya on Wednesday, November 27, 2019.
Image: COURTESY

A pointless dispute now threatens the promise of unity brought by the Building Bridges Initiative. ODM leader Raila Odinga is insisting that there should be a referendum to adopt the BBI report while Deputy President William Ruto is arguing that the necessary amendments can be passed in Parliament.

In reality, a referendum would be expensive, inappropriate and unnecessary.

A referendum costs almost as much as a general election, at least Sh10 billion. Isn't that a waste of money?

 

Secondly, there are at least 100 proposals in the BBI report. Which would be voted on in the proposed referendum? All of them or some of them? Would there be a long list where voters would tick Yes or No? A referendum on BBI would be unwieldy and probably unworkable.

Thirdly, a referendum is unnecessary because nothing has fundamentally changed. Kenya will still have a presidential system but will just create a post for a Prime Minister who reports to the President. The role will be similar to the job of 'super-minister' Fred Matiang'i today but combined with the work of Majority Leader Aden Duale. This change is more organisational than constitutional.

If we were switching to a true parliamentary system with an executive Prime Minister, then we would have needed a referendum to confirm such a fundamental change.

Quote of the day: "The Gospel offers forgiveness for the past, new life for the present, and hope for the future."

John Sentamu 
The Ugandan cleric became the first black archbishop in England on November 30, 2005