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What Raila told PSs

BUSINESS
By | Jul 10th 2010 | 5 min read
By | July 10th 2010
BUSINESS

By Alex Ndegwa and PMPS

The Government is leaving nothing to chance in its effort to ensure the Proposed Constitution sails through at the August 4 referendum. And this was demonstrated by the fact that even as he recuperates, the Prime Minister Raila Odinga met 40 Permanent Secretaries n his Karen home, and wasted no time in whipping them to back the draft supreme law.

Described as indefatigable, the Prime Minister has been in the forefront as the most visible leader in pushing for the Proposed Constitution.

Yesterday, he asked the civil servants to support the draft laws "without fear or apologies".

The PM predicted that a strong wind of change would sweep across the country "all the way to the ballot" as he exuded confidence that the ‘Yes’ team — which has of late gone back to the drawing board for new strategies — would win.

"The wave will end with a victory margin of at least 70 per cent in favour of Yes," the PM said while referring to the August 4 referendum that will pit the Greens and the Reds.

Raila has been out of politics since leaving hospital last week, where he was treated for subdural hematoma, after accidentally knocking his head in his car. The PM has since made a quick recovery.

Head of the Civil Service Francis Muthaura, who led the PSs in the visit to wish the PM quick recovery, had met them earlier on Monday to discuss the forthcoming referendum.

reservations

The Standard on Saturday learnt that during the Harambee House meeting, Muthaura had asked the PSs if any of them had reservations about supporting the Proposed Constitution. Three months ago, Muthaura had met with Provincial and District Commissioners and asked them to support the Constitution.

To whip the provincial administrators to support the Proposed Constitution, President Kibaki and Raila have assured that contrary to claims by the ‘No’ side, the department would not be scrapped.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga, wearing cap, with Head of the Civil Service Francis Muthaura and other Permanent Secretaries when they visited him at his home in Karen.

Last week, President Kibaki met 140 PNU and ODM MPs in Nairobi to lay down a strategy for the ‘Yes’ campaigns. It was agreed that the ‘Yes’ team was to split itself into National, County and Constituency campaign teams.

Yesterday’s meeting of Permanent Secretaries signaled an all-out and concerted push to galvanise the State machinery to ensure a win in the referendum vote, in an exercise that has been branded a ‘Government project’.

By turning to the highest ranking executive public servants, who it emerged have devised strategies to shore up support for the draft, the Government is leaving nothing to chance less than a month to the crucial vote.

Education PS James ole Kiyapi is reported to have been the only one who openly stated that he had misgivings on the draft at the Harambee House meeting with Muthaura.

A statement by the PMPS quoted Raila, who is the co-ordinator of Government affairs, as urging all the PSs in attendance — only five were absent with apologies — to be part of the re-making of the history of Kenya.

Muthaura, who spoke on behalf of the PSs, indicated that they would play an active role in the campaigns that kick off officially next week.

He disclosed that the PSs had drawn up a programme to sensitise people from their communities about the new constitution.

Muthaura added that the PSs would soon be going to the countryside to roll out the programmes.

Confidence

As Raila met the officers, President Kibaki was at the Nakuru ASK show, where he urged Kenyans to turn up in large numbers and vote for the Proposed Constitution on August 4.

And Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka expressed confidence that the draft constitution would be passed at the plebiscite. He was speaking when he met visiting American congressmen led by Donald Payne.

In Narok, 10 South Rift MPs led by Internal Security Minister George Saitoti urged the Maasai community to vote for the proposed law.

The Standard On Saturday learnt that during the Monday meeting at Harambee House, Muthaura had stressed the closing of ranks within the Grand Coalition Government, whose parties have been in incessant feuding.

Yesterday’s move by the PM caught many by surprise, as the PM has in the past been a critic of involving civil servants in political exercises.

Last year when the Committee of Experts collected public views, Raila had protested a move by Muthaura to directly involve senior civil servants in the debate on constitution review.

In a letter to the Grand Coalition Management Committee, Raila said civil servants should not be compelled to present their views on the Harmonised Draft Constitution.

"I advise (that) you take immediate action to prevent public servants from being compelled to present their views on the Harmonised Draft Constitution," stated Raila in the letter.

But yesterday, the PM asked PSs and other Government officials to count themselves lucky to have a chance to make a new constitution for the country close to 50 years after independence.

Government project

He said the opportunity to participate in the making of a nation’s history was rare and often came once in a lifetime.

Muthaura briefed the PM on the ‘Yes’ campaign, which he said was progressing well. He expressed hope that the PM would soon resume his duties since his contribution is greatly missed.

"We have missed you in Government in the last 10 days of your hospitalisation. But the campaigns are going on well and I am confident we will win on August 4," said Muthaura.

The PM reiterated that the Proposed Constitution was a "Government project" since constitutional reforms were part of Agenda 4 of the National Accord. Besides, the Government had funded the entire process hence it had a duty to ensure the new laws were passed.

"It is in this context that I said the achievement of the new constitution is a Government project," Raila said.

Raila said a constitution had everything to do with the development of a country, adding that Kenya had lagged in development because of its unprogressive laws.

"Not every leader is born a dictator. It is the systems that produce dictators. The current constitution provides a lot of temptation for leaders to turn into dictators, that is why we must change it," he said.

Other accounting officers from Government ministries and departments were also present.

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