CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES

MPs' proposal to hold referendum alongside 2022 polls wrong footing

CIOC’s proposal to hold a referendum on Election Day is not intended to further the course of public interest.

In Summary

• Kenyans believe that the 2010 constitution created a bloated government at the national and county level. This left the national government with no option other than to increase taxes.

•  Given this scenario, the popular view among Kenyans has been that the elective positions should be reduced and some of the seats scrapped.

Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni
Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni
Image: FILE

As the clamour to amend the 2010 Constitution continue to gain momentum, a key hurdle stands in the way.

The country does not have a referendum law to guide and shield the process from legal challenges. The delay by the National Assembly to enact this law shows MPs do not take the constitutional mandate bestowed on them.

In what would be seen as reacting to this, the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee chaired by Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni now says it has a draft law.

 

One of its key proposals is that the referendum will be held alongside the 2022 polls. The referendum question in which voters will be required to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, will be in included as the seventh ballot.

Allow me to say this. The committee started on a wrong footing. I would not expect them to have their way because this means the expectations of Kenyans will not be met.

Kenyans believe that the 2010 constitution created a bloated government at the national and county level. This left the national government with no option other than to increase taxes.

Apart from carrying this burden, Kenyans do not get value for their taxes. A huge chunk of the monies is stolen and the remaining used to bankroll politicians.

Given this scenario, the popular view among Kenyans has been that the elective positions should be reduced and some of the seats scrapped.

On corruption, the law should be amended to ensure the noose is tightened on corrupt state officers. Once arrested, they should not be released on bond or bail. Instead, they should remain behind the bar until their cases are heard and determined. Those found guilty should be sentenced to life imprisonment and of course the state should recover all the monies they stole.

CIOC’s proposal to hold a referendum on Election Day is not intended to further the course of public interest. If this would come to pass, then it means none of the seats will be removed. Kenyans will still vote for all six elective positions and this would go against their expectations.

 

Yes, I have heard a section of the politicians using this excuse. Conducting a referendum is very expensive and Kenya cannot afford to raise the amount of monies required. To me, the cost of referendum would be far much less compared to billions of shillings looted in the recent past.

If you ask me, the constitution review will to a large extent address the myriad of challenges that we have been facing. The time to act is now.

Joseph Mutua Ndonga is a Political Analyst and Blogger

Nairobi