Plan by senators to strike deal on cash sharing flops

Senators Ledama ole Kina, Stewarts Madzayo, Kipchumba Murkomen, Johnson Sakaja, Kindiki Kithure and Enock Wambua last week. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

A planned bonding meeting scheduled to bring senators together so that they could unlock the revenue sharing stalemate yesterday aborted.

Confusion marred the consensus building process, as it was not clear the route taken by the leadership, and whether the Senate Business Committee (SBC) had sealed a deal following the aborted informal session.

The SBC meeting was to be led by Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio and his Minority counterpart, James Orengo.

Yesterday, Majority Whip Irungu Kangata and his Minority counterpart Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, who are members of the SBC, appeared unaware of the meeting, but confirmed the ‘mbuzi choma’ didn’t materialise.

“There is no SBC meeting until Tuesday morning. What we had, was a mbuzi (goat) for all senators at my hotel in Karen but didn’t happen,” said Kangata.

Kang’ata added: “This is because it was felt it may spoil the neutrality perception of the Speaker, who was the chief guest. It was cancelled. Forty senators had confirmed with the Speaker they would attend. However, some more experienced senators felt it would spoil speaker’s image and advised that it be cancelled.”

A senator aware of the mbuzi plan said it was meant for bonding and not to transact any serious business.

“There was no formal agenda. In fact, this was Jubilee “mbuzi” but Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot accidentally shared the details with to the rest of the senators after their first confirmation,” said another senator.

“We kept off because with Kangata, anything is possible. He can pull a surprise and box you into submission. We had to trade carefully,” said another source.

The Senate Finance committee chaired by Kirinyaga Senator Charles Kibiru made recommendations based on the proposals by the Commission for Revenue Allocation (CRA), which sparked off sharped divisions as 19 counties are set to lose close to Sh 20 billion.

When contacted, Speaker Lusaka said: “The meeting is almost. We are really looking for consensus. Both sides should climb down from their hard positions.”

However by last evening, Poghisio and Orengo had not briefed the Speaker on their deliberations which was meant to inform today’s (Mondays) Kamukunji.

The fate of the schedule ‘Kamukunji’ informal now hangs in the balance as the SBC chaired by Lusaka is yet to get names of representatives of the opposing camps to the negotiating table.

Senators deferred seven times, taking a vote on the Finance and Budget committee report before the House, which those opposing led by Senators Kithure Kindiki (Tharaka/Nithi), Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni), Johnston Sakaja (Nairobi), Ledama ole Kina (Narok) and Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo/Marakwet) terming it  as the most divisive shareable formula for the Sh316.5 billion among counties.

This hotly-contested formula has seen senators defy their President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM’s Raila Odinga.

However, Raila recently backed the CRA proposal, pushing for a win-win deal, also pushed by ‘team Kenya’, which brings comprises 25 senators.

Sakaja’s motion seeks to retain last year’s allocation to counties, with a rider that in applying the new formula, it should be over and above the baseline of Sh316.5 billion.

After last week’s vote to defer the vote by Senator Murkomen, the House leadership urged the different camps to nominate their representatives to deliberate on the matter and find a solution.

The Sakaja camp is yet to name their members.

“We don’t want to be boxed into a corner. If five people go to negotiate and reach consensus, taking a position contrary to the masses, you will be hanged,” said a senator supporting status quo.

Nandi senator Samson Cherargei who support the president’s side yesterday accused his colleagues of taking hard-line positions and deceiving the public concerning the formula.

“These people are misleading Kenyans. The expired second generation formula if applied with the baseline of the Sh316.5 billion, the affected counties will still lose substantial amounts of money,” faulted Cherargei.

He argued that even Narok County, if one applied those parameters, will lose Sh1 billion, which is more than what they are proposed to lose now.