RIFTS IN THE RIFT

Ruto turf governors split on governance system

In Summary
  • Nakuru's Kinyanjui want retention of Executive as recommended in BBI report.
  • Tolgos want MCA picked as CECs in counties, MPs as ministers at national level.
Deputy President William Ruto during a stop over in Nandi County on March 14, 2020.
Deputy President William Ruto during a stop over in Nandi County on March 14, 2020.
Image: DPPS

Governors from Rift Valley are divided on whether the country should abandon the current pure Presidential system or adopt a Parliamentary system.

Last week on Friday, the 11 governors from  Deputy President William Ruto’s vast home turf separately presented their proposals to the Building Bridges Initiative taskforce.

It is not clear if counties presented a joint harmonised report as has had earlier been indicated or each if the governor presented their county's views.

 
 

However, reports of three counties -- Kericho, Nakuru and Elgeyo Marakwet –-that were based on public hearings --have exposed how cautiously the leaders are approaching the divisive push to introduce the position of a powerful prime minister.

Ruto wants to be a powerful executive president.

The BBI report unveiled last year in November by President Uhuru Kenyatta proposed n essentially toothless premier appointed by the president from the majority party in Parliament.

However, Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony boldly recommends a parliamentary system, with an executive prime minister and a ceremonial president.

The former university don said the executive prime minister should be the head of government and chair the Cabinet with the president being largely a figurehead.

Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony.
Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony.
Image: FILE

Although prospects of a referendum have been dimed by the coranavirus threatening to bring the economy to its knees, Chepkwony's recommendation is likely to put him on a collision course with Ruto's allies.

The DP and his men have opposed the expansion of the executive and altering the Kenyan system of governance.

 

In another radical proposal, Chepkwony is recommending all members of the Cabinet should be picked Parliament.

This deviates from the task force’s recommendation that the Cabinet should be a hybrid, where some ministers are MPs and others non-parliamentarians.   

Nationally, we propose the amendment of Chapter 9 (The Executive) to provide for the creation of the position of a powerful Prime Minister and two deputies. This way we will be able to address some of the challenges the country is facing after every election,” the former chemistry professor said.

Further, Chepkwony said that the country should stick to “one man one vote principle” during elections, noting that each elective position should be won on  “First Past the Post” principle.

This means the candidate with the majority of votes is declared the winner.

“The minority groups and special interest groups be guaranteed equitable access to jobs, appointments, provisiChepkwony said.

The former Moi University lecturer told Garissa SenatorYusuf Haji–led taskforce that the Senate should be strengthened and made the Upper House, as in other countries such as the United States.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui also agrees t the Executive should be expanded to address inclusivity.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui.
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui.
Image: FILE

But unlike his Kericho counterpart who was bold and specific, Kinyanjui seems to agree with the BBI proposal.

The Executive should be expanded to enhance the principle of inclusivity and also offer opportunities to nurture future leaders at all levels of governance,” he said.

Kinyanjui is, however, supporting the creation of the office of the Leader of Opposition, which would be fully funded by taxpayers.

To save face and money for presidential candidates who lose an election, Kinyanjui proposes they all have seats in Parliament. No one should be left out in the cold for five years. 

“Persons who contest for the presidency and lose should get seats in Parliament to ensure they continue nurturing their leadership abilities,” he said.

Kinyanjui appeared to read from the same script with the DP Ruto who is also calling for creation and recognition of the official opposition in Parliament.

However, unlike Kinyanjui who wants all presidential candidates to be given slots in Parliament, Ruto says the leader of the party that comes second becomes the leader of the opposition with his or her running mate becoming an MP.

“Elections in Kenya are a close-run contest. Often enough, the winner and runner-up achieve more than five million votes. The winner ascends to a formally constituted leadership role while the runner-up becomes a virtual stranger in leadership,” he told a gathering at Chatham House, London, and last year.

Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos who was chairing BBI public information rallies in Rift Valley kept off the subject.

He only said to ensure Kenyans feel part of the government, Cabinet Secretaries and the county Executive members should be picked purely from sitting MPs and MCAs, respectively.

He also wants gender balancing in all the elective positions so when a presidential candidate is a man, his running mate is a woman, and vice versa. The same goes for governor and deity governor candidate.

Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos.
Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos.

Before the outbreak of the coronavirus two weeks ago, MPs from Rift Valley were to lead hearings in their counties but it seems the governors bypassed the legislators.

On Saturday last week, leaders and residents from the 11 counties were to meet at Nakuru Afraha Stadium to hand their views to the task force but the rally was put off after the Ministry of Health banned all public gatherings.

Most MPs from the region who are allies of the DP have pledged to oppose any BBI report that will expand the government at the 'expense of mwananchi'.

Soi MP Caleb Kositanysaid  Kenyans were already burdened and any expansion of political seats would defeat the country’s development plans.

“So much is happening in the country and we should put aside the politics of BBI. Kenyans want assurance that those who have jobs will retain them post Covid-19. Businessmen are concerned about their businesses and those are the things that should concern us now, not BBI,” he said.