National Dialogue: Cost of living still a priority for Raila team, says Wandayi

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

The Azimio coalition has said that it will not relent in its quest to address the high cost of living in the country, even as it engages in a National Dialogue with the Kenya Kwanza administration.
Speculation has emerged that the Ruto- Raila talks team may have forgotten mwananchi, and failed to consider the high cost of living issue during previous sit downs.  

But National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi, in an interview with Spice FM on Tuesday, October 17, said that the cost of living issue remains a priority for the Azimio team and that they will push for legislative actions to remove certain taxes that burden Kenyans.

“I want to disabuse people of this notion that the matter of cost of living has been put in the back burner. Cost of living is a heavy matter that will require serious sacrifices in terms of taking legislative actions to remove certain taxes,” Wandayi said. 

The lawmaker added that Azimio is focused on ensuring that the National Dialogue does not end without an outcome on the cost of living.

“I don’t want to divulge what is going on in the talks in public, but as Azimio, we are focused on ensuring that these talks do not end without an outcome on the cost of living. In fact, the talks will not be over until they are over,” he said.

The Ugunja MP also defended the creation of two new positions in the Executive - the office of the official Opposition Leader and that of Prime Cabinet Secretary, saying that the positions are meant to enhance inclusivity and accountability in the governance system.

“On the issue of checks and balances, we as Azimio feel we need a position of Leader of Opposition created with capacity to check the sitting government. We also find some weaknesses in the current presidential system where a person who has run for president and eventually comes up as number two, is left out without a formal office and without anything to do. That does not augur well not only for national cohesion but also for the capacity of a country to hold their leaders to account,” said Wandayi. 

He denied that the creation of the two posts seeks to appease the big tribes in the country, saying that they are aimed at addressing the feeling of exclusion that fuels ethnic politics.

“I agree there is a feeling of exclusion that fuels this clamor for our persons to be there; it is a real thing not just a feeling. We are levelling the ground by creating a structure which can accommodate people,” he said.

Wandayi also expressed confidence that the National Dialogue Committee, which comprises representatives from both sides of the political divide, will reach consensus on all contentious issues, including electoral reforms and gender parity.

He said that the committee is on track and will soon present its final report. 

The Committee has so far agreed on some key issues such as the reconstitution and restructuring of IEBC selection panel, two-thirds gender principle and entrenchment of NG-CDF.

It will retreat from October 23 to clear all other issues and come up with a report that can be presented to the relevant persons.