Cost of living now on the agenda of national dialogue team's talks

National Dialogue Committee co-chairs Kalonzo Musyoka (left) and Kimani Ichung'wah at the Bomas of Kenya, September 2023. [Dennis Kavisu, Standard] 

After a push and pull between Kenya Kwanza and Azimio during the ongoing talks, the National Dialogue Committee has added cost of living to the dialogue.

Azimio leader Raila Odinga on Sunday warned that his coalition could pull out of the talks if cost of living was not included in the talks.

The issue had threatened to derail the talks that were called by President William Ruto and supported by Raila Odinga following weeks of demonstrations that led to deaths and loss of property in various parts of the country.

Speaking in Nakuru’s Lake Elementaita Mountain Lodge, the committee members said they have started the difficult discussion on cost of living.

“We have started tackling the difficult question of the cost of living. We have resolved that beginning next week we shall be inviting a number of experts to help us crack the numbers and be able to have proposals that will ease the burden Kenyans are bearing,” said National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah who is co-chairing the committee with Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka.

Ichung’wah noted that cost of living is not an issue to be discussed and agreed on in one sitting.

He said the committee is exploring what constitutes immediate, medium, and long-term solutions.

The committee, he said, has agreed to have a discussion with a number of experts they will engage. He said after exhausting the discussion on the cost of living, they will focus on the other issues.

Ichung’wah noted that they have an extension approval by the Senate and National Assembly and they have another 30 days from October 28 to November 28.

He said they have agreed on a number of issues including auditing of elections and are working on the how and the instruments to use.

The decision by the committee comes hours after Azimio leaders said they would not relent in their push to have the cost of living lowered.

They threatened to pull out of the talks should their partners fail to heed to their call.

Former Defence Cabinet secretary Eugene Wamalwa, a member of the committee during a church service in Kajiado said they would not join the team in Elementaita if cost of living was not factored in.

Narc-Kenya’s Martha Karua had said Azimio was not going to be part of the bipartisan talks report if they did not address the cost of living.

Kalozo said the committee is dealing with a critical issue that must be addressed and they will not shy away from it.

He noted that Kenyans were suffering and they will do their best to have the matter addressed.

“We have started discussion on this important matter. We know that Kenyans across the political divide are feeling the heat of the cost of living and I want to assure Kenyans that we are dealing with it head-on,” said Kalonzo.

Kalonzo said cost of living is in the framework agreement they adopted when the talks started. He noted that as they progress with the discussion they may want to recall some experts.