Punguza Mizigo Bill reaches assemblies

IEBC Chair Wafula Chebukati (right) with Voter Education and Partnership Director Immaculate Kassait during inspection of Punguza Mizigo supporters verification exercise at Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) in Nairobi. [David Njaaga, Standard]

County Assemblies countrywide have started receiving the draft Punguza Mizigo (Constitutional Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The draft Bill was submitted to counties by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) just a day after Ford-Kenya party leader Moses Wetang'ula termed it "too narrow to justify a referendum on its own."

Speaking in Nakuru on Monday, the Bungoma Senator asked the IEBC to shelve plans to distribute the draft Bill to assemblies, saying there was need for the Third Way Alliance party, which is behind the proposal, to wait for the outcome of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

As stipulated by law, the assemblies must now consider the draft Bill within the next three months, before Speakers of the devolved units submit their decisions to their counterparts at the National Assembly and Senate.

Leaderships of Siaya, Homa Bay and Kisumu assemblies confirmed receiving communication in regards to the Bill.

Yesterday, Kisumu Speaker Onyango Oloo said he would present it to members but was quick to add that it was bound to fail.

Mr Oloo noted that although the Bill could have some provisions that were good, its timing was wrong, hence he was likely to be rejected.

“We will open it up for debate but I do not think my MCAs will endorse it. The message may be right but the messenger and the timing is what is likely to make it flop,” said Oloo.

The Speaker also noted that the silence of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition Leader Raila Odinga over the Bill was also likely to have a ripple effect among MCAs.

“The draft Bill comes when the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) team is also working on a similar cause. This is set to have an impact because the BBI team has the backing of the two leaders,” said Oloo.

Majority Leader Kenneth Onyango told The Standard he would only rally members to support it if the party leadership gives him a green light to do so.

In Siaya, Speaker George Okode confirmed that the Bill had already reached him, and said that he would present it for members to debate on.

In Homa Bay and Migori Counties, however, the Bill has sharply divided the respective Houses with some of the MCAs vowing to support while those inclined to Raila’s ODM party vowing to frustrate it.

Differences emerge

Acting Speaker Evans Marieba confirmed receiving the Bill on Monday.

However, differences have emerged between Marieba, Minority Leader John Njira and Majority Leader Walter Muok. Mr Muok is supporting the Bill while Marieba and Njira oppose it.

Nakuru Speaker Joel Kairo said the Business Committee would prepare it for discussion just like any other draft legislation. “Officials of the Third Way Alliance are expected here on Wednesday (today) to take members through the proposals contained in the document,” Mr Kairo said.

Kabazi Ward Rep Peter Mbae said they were more likely to pass the Bill, but with minimal amendments.

His Olkaria counterpart Peter Palang’a said the Bill was attractive “to us".