TYRANNY NUMBERS

Why referendum Bill will sail through county assemblies

The two handshake partners enjoy massive support in most assemblies

In Summary

•Political observer Peter Kagwanja will easily pass in most of the county assemblies because of the popularity of the principals and goodies they are dangling to MCAs.

•An analysis of the county assemblies on how the devolved units voted in the last election shows that Uhuru and Raila can comfortably bag at least 30 out of the 47 assemblies.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the launch of BBI signature collection at KICC, Nairobi, on November 25..
THE LAUNCH: President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the launch of BBI signature collection at KICC, Nairobi, on November 25..
Image: FREDRICK OMONDI

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM boss Raila Odinga’s political influence coupled with sweeteners in the BBI referendum Bill are likely to guarantee easy passage in most county assemblies.

In addition, the support of influential governors and other seasoned politicians – party leaders – who have thrown their weight behind the constitutional changes will give impetus to the Bill.

About 30 governors and five party leaders attended the launch of the collection of at least one million signatures at KICC on Wednesday, underscoring their support for the document and a plebiscite

The leaders are Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Kalonzo Musyioka (Wiper), Isaac Rutto (CCM), Moses Wetang'ula (Ford Kenya), his rival Wafula Wamunyinyi, Gideon Moi (Kanu) and Alfred Mutua (Maendeleo Chap Chap).

Uhuru and Raila  enjoy massive support in the country, though this has been threatened by the growing influence of Deputy President William Ruto.

The DP, who has opposed the clamour to amend the Constitution and has been pushing for consensus, has made inroads in Uhuru’s bastions – selling his hustler narrative and trashing the BBI report.

Political observer Peter Kagwanja said the Bill will easily pass in most  county assemblies because of the popularity of the principals and the benefits they are dangling before MCAs.

“It is going to have an easy sail, very easy for a number of reasons. One, people in the wards are happy because of the creation of the Ward Development Fund,” Kagwanja said.

He added, “The two leaders, combined, control most of the assemblies. They also have power in the National Assembly and the Senate. The opposition, or whoever he is, will not have an easy time because it is difficult to oppose what is popular.”

Martin Andati agreed, saying the improvement of the document to accommodate concerns of various groups has enticed many quarters and enhanced the drive's acceptability.

“They are having the numbers which will enable them to pass the Bill. Raila has a number of counties which he controls. He will whip them into submission. Uhuru the same,” he said.

He reiterated that the ‘few’ assemblies that might oppose the Bill may not have influence and the two handshake partners shall have marshalled enough numbers to propel the referendum push.

An analysis of the county assemblies on how the devolved units voted in the last election shows that Uhuru and Raila can comfortably bag at least 30 out of the 47 assemblies.

This surpasses the Constitutional threshold of at least 24 assemblies needed to pass the Bill to trigger a referendum.

These counties are the political strongholds of the two leaders. They are Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii and Nyamira, which  have been predominantly controlled by Raila.

Raila also has massive influence in Busia, Vihiga, Kakamega Bungoma, Nairobi, Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu, Taita Taveta and Tana River.

The ODM boss’s point men and close allies from these regions -influential governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa) and Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) - have thrown their weight behind the constitutional change, almost guaranteeing the passage of the document in their regions.

Joho has proved to be the most influential figure in the entire Coast region while Oparanya has come out to rival Mudavadi as the Western Kenya kingpin.

In Mt Kenya, the President’s clout will face a litmus test. The DP has been making inroads in the vote-rich region that threatens to turn the tables against him.

However, political pundits observe that Uhuru is still the region’s kingpin.

The larger region has eight counties: Kiambu, Murang’a, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Embu, Meru, Nyandarua and Laikipia.

In Eastern, Wiper leader Kalonzo is in a rare case reading from the same page with the all the three governors from the region, apart from Makueni’s Kivutha Kibwana.

Their unity will likely consolidate the assemblies, whose majority members are Wiper’s, to vote in favour of the Bill.

In addition, Uhuru and Raila are likely to win the support of 11 other county assemblies given the enticements contained in the Bill for the ward representatives.

They are Nakuru, Kajiado, Narok, Turkana, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit and Samburu and Trans Nzoia.

The proposed changes provide that five per cent of the all funds sent to counties shall go towards Ward Development Fund, a replica of the National Government-Constituency Development Fund.

“There is established a ward development fund for each county, into which shall be paid in each financial year at least five per cent of all the county government’s revenue in each financial year,” the Bill reads.

MCAs have been angling for the Fund and are likely to endorse the document. Moreover, the Bill proposes that MCAs can be picked by governors as county executive committee members.

However, six counties, mainly from the DP’s Rift Valley home turf, could prove a challenge to the two principals should the country’s second in command decide to rally his troops to reject the changes.

These are Bomet, Uasin Gishu, Kericho, Nandi, Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet. However, Baringo may go either way after Senator Gideon Moi endorsed the document.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, however, said the Bill may not see the light day in at least 24 assemblies because of its failure to address  MCAs’ concerns.

“I don’t think it will sail through. Apart from the introduction of the Ward Development Fund (WDF) there is nothing else. The issue of requirement that MCAs can be picked as CECs means MCAs must have degrees,” he said.

In addition, the Bill has not addressed the issue of MCAs' retirement package and the financial autonomy which they have been pushing for.

The county assemblies were also never heard by the principals when they sought audience, a factor that may add to the rejection of the Bill, he said.