Referendum debate splits Western Kenya

By Bryan Tumwa

KENYA: A section of Western Kenya leaders have differed over the proposed referendum to increase allocations to county governments.

Bishop Beniah Salala of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Mumias Diocese has opposed the referendum and instead argued that the allocation to counties should be increased through an Act of Parliament.

He called on MPs from both Jubilee and Cord to unite and overcome their political divide to save the country from the expenses that would be incurred in case of a referendum.

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“Poverty in this country is caused by poor leadership and inequitable distribution of resources. We can avoid being in perpetual campaign mode if our leaders can increase allocations through the House. We cannot be in perpetual campaign mode all the time because it undermines our economy by scaring away investors,” said Salala.

He cautioned Kenyans against allowing politicians to hijack the constitution, which is a property of the electorate who elected them to parliament. Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale accused former Prime Minister Raila Odinga of causing confusion in the real agenda of the referendum. He however, expressed support for it in order to increase allocations to counties and strengthen the Senate.

Parliamentary system

“The PM introduced the quest for a parliamentary system to replace the presidential system and made Kenyans look away from the main prize. The real issue is about devolution and how we can protect it,” he said.

Sabatia Member of Parliament Alfred Agoi called for an amendment of the constitution through an act of parliament. He argued that a referendum could only be called for if all the available channels were exhausted.

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Charles Gimose, the MP for Hamisi constituency and his Butere counterpart Andrew Toboso supported the referendum but Gimose insisted that he would only support the push if part of the allocation is channeled down to ward level.

“If the money will be devolved further, I will support the referendum. 10 per cent should be for constituency development and ward development. The remaining 30 per cent can be utilised at county level to bring development,” he noted.

Former Bumula MP Bifwoli Wakoli expressed support for the referendum and dismissed leaders opposed to it of being malicious. “What type of human being are you when a process is being mooted to bring money to the grassroots and you claim you do not support it?” posed Wakoli.

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Kenya Parliamentary system Anglican Church of Kenya referendum