BBI team meets ahead of Uhuru and Raila date

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga in a past event.
The Building Bridges Initiative team meets today as it prepares to officially hand over its report to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The report seeks to radically alter the structure of the Executive and Parliament.

Multiple sources within the 14-member task force yesterday told The Standard that President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga could receive the document that has proposed the creation of a powerful Prime Minister as early as today.

The team constituted after the March 9 handshake also seeks to cure gender parity by having two Woman Representatives for each of the 47 counties.

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This will consequently bring the number of Woman Reps to 94 in the National Assembly, and bridge the gap between male and female lawmakers in the House.

The proposal is seen as a cure to Parliament’s failure to enact the two-thirds gender rule as provided for in the 2010 Constitution.

Slots for nomination of both men and women’s special groups have been retained at the National Assembly, Senate and counties to boost gender parity.

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On the creation of a Prime Minister position, the team has proposed that the holder be appointed by the President from the majority party in Parliament.

The nominee will subsequently be vetted and approved by Parliament before assuming the role of Head of Government, while the President will serve as the ceremonial Head of State.

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Political battle

Under such an arrangement, the political battle will shift to the constituencies since MPs will have the powers to determine who becomes the country’s chief executive.

Another key proposal, according to our sources, is to have the number of constituencies reduced from the current 290 to 210.

It is not clear which constituencies will face the chop as the matter of boundary delimitation will be left to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), using the recently released census results.

However, there is already an uproar by a cross-section of politicians following the release of the 2019 population numbers, with claims that the population reported was not reflective of the situation on the ground.

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The figures would be used by the electoral agency to re-draw constituency boundaries which could see some electoral units merged or abolished altogether.

A reliable source at the team further said the 47 counties have been retained as they are after it emerged that merging some of them would make the report unpopular among county bosses.

Some governors had already started expressing their reservations about the yet-to-be-published document in the wake of reports that some devolved units could be merged.

This revelation now puts to rest worries among leaders from some small counties, like Tharaka Nithi, Lamu and Vihiga, that they might be dissolved or merged with bigger counties.

It has also emerged that the team has rejected the proposal of 14 regional governments, which had become the next political seat for governors serving their second and last terms in office.

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This implies that governors like Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and others serving their second terms will have to battle it out at the national level for other positions after they leave office.

Some of the governors have since declared their interest in running for the presidency.

A proposal that could open a vicious battlefront among MPs is to reduce constituencies by 80 and maintain the original 210 that were there before the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution.

Fewer MPs

Apart from the reducing the constituencies, the BBI team is also recommending that IEBC reduce the number wards, which currently stand at 1,450.

MPs could also lose authority to manage Constituency Development Funds (CDF), with our sources intimating that the money will be channelled through national and county government treasuries.

Additionally, the team has proposed a legislative framework on curbing corruption as identified in the nine-point agenda between Uhuru and Raila.

The BBI team has also suggested that to end ethnic antagonism and exclusivity in government appointments, a robust policy should be drafted to cure the ills associated with exclusion in the appointment to lucrative positions.

The Memorandum of Understanding between Uhuru and Raila identified ethnic antagonism and competition, lack of national ethos, inclusivity, devolution, divisive elections, safety and security, corruption, shared prosperity, responsibilities and rights as the nine issues whose resolution would guarantee all Kenyans true citizenship and justice.

During the launch of the Syokimau-Suswa SGR line a week before the report was completed, Uhuru spoke passionately about BBI and its mandate, and declared that he would go round the country to sell the proposals.

But his deputy William Ruto and his allies have expressed opposition to the document, vowing to reject it if it is aimed at creating positions for a few individuals.

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Raila OdingaUhuru KenyattaBuilding Bridges Initiative