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PRIME MINISTER

Do we need a referendum?

In Summary

• The BBI team is likely to soon propose over 100 governance changes including an executive Prime Minister

• A referendum could cost up to Sh10 billion yet the BBI proposals may have almost unanimous support

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto greet a section of the leaders who graced the 57th Madaraka Day Celebrations at State House Gardens, Nairobi.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto greet a section of the leaders who graced the 57th Madaraka Day Celebrations at State House Gardens, Nairobi.
Image: PSCU

On Madaraka Day President Uhuru Kenyatta rightly pointed out that the Constitution is a "living document' that can be amended and updated.

The Building Bridges Initiative team has been seeking views since 2018 and will soon make its final recommendations.

 

One proposal will take centre stage – the creation of the post of an executive Prime Minister.

 

However the BBI will not be proposing a Westminster parliamentary system because the PM will be an MP chosen and appointed by the President. So the new PM will be little different from super-minister Fred Matiang'i who today manages much of government business.

As President Kenyatta said, the BBI changes are intended to enhance unity and reduce violence in the political system. If the creation of a PM and two deputy PMs can achieve that, few will oppose it.

So in all probability, the BBI proposals would receive an overwhelming majority.

Yet the referendum will be very expensive – estimates go up to Sh10 billion. Wouldn't it be better to spend that on cash transfers to poor people during this Covid lockdown? Let's find a way to make the necessary BBI changes without holding a referendum.

Quote of the day: "Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beat each other up."

Muhammad Ali
The boxing heavyweight champion died on June 3, 2016