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Punguza Mizigo’s life risks being cut in ruthless style

By Daisy Maritim Maina | August 3rd 2019
Thirdway Alliance Party of Kenya Leader Ekuru Aukot at a past event.

Operation ‘Kill Bill’ is underway. The brief is that the Punguza Mizigo Bill must die by any means necessary. Whether the thing is strangled at the counties, shot in courts, or bludgeoned at the ballot.

In truth it is a ‘Battle of the Bills’. The slugfest is between ‘Punguza’ and the upcoming Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill. Of course the BBI’s recommendations will be drafted into a Bill. Who knows, perhaps the Bill has been drafted already, and the ‘dynastical’ recommendations are ready, just awaiting procedural affirmation.

Whatever the case, this ‘Punguza’ vs ‘Bridges’ fight is lopsided. Solely based on the people behind them, Punguza is a featherweight Bill, while ‘Bridges’ is well and truly heavyweight. I retract a prediction from a few weeks ago where I projected that Punguza has already won the referendum race. Unless of course there is a faceless heavyweight behind it, who will fight to protect it from imminent death.

The way it looks now, Punguza’s premature end will come through the courts. Earlier in the week, the High Court stopped the 47 county assemblies from debating and approving the Bill. The Bill could be permanently frozen at the Judiciary on account of failure to follow due process, and perhaps, even on account of its supposed unconstitutional proposals.

The petitioners challenging the Bill allege several things, including: One, that it was impossible to verify the signatures because the electoral body does not have a repository of specimen signatures for comparison and yet, the law requires voters to be registered biometrically. Second, certain provisions, such as the proposal to reduce constituencies from 290 to 47 contravene our fundamental political rights.

The courts are by far the safest place for ‘Bridges’ to deliver the technical knock out. For two reasons. The first reason is procedural. A court process would give time to the Bridges Bill to at least catch up, or overtake ‘Punguza’ in complying with Article 257. The second reason is political. If Punguza dies in court, and it does not get to the County Assemblies for debate and voting, the fate of the ‘Bridges Brigade’ will not be at the whim of the unpredictable ‘low-level’ politicians called MCAs. 

In these times of battle, Ekuro Aukot must do two things to salvage his project. First, Instead of getting mad, he should get even.

Currently, Aukot is showing his annoyance, and in his annoyance he will forget his defence when the heavyweights actually throw punches at him. Aukot is reporting Raila Odinga, Moses Wetangula and Kalonzo Musyoka to the public, complaining that they are fighting him. And so? Did he not expect it? But most importantly, what will he do about it?

The second thing Aukot could do is even out the playing field. He should convince the “rumoured” heavyweight behind him to publicly enter the fight with him. The faceless Titan should emerge from the shadows and throw his hat in the ring too.

He, or she for that matter, will give the Punguza Bill a chance. He should show up and give the country another ‘Orange’ versus ‘Banana’ contest. Giants versus giants. Nobody wants to pay to watch a match between a brawny 100kg boxer and a puny 60kg fighter. It’s too painful.

As it is, Team Bridges will keep throwing punches straight from the shoulder, and Punguza Mizigo’s life will be cut short in a ruthless knock out.

On the other hand, if we are being extremely optimistic, a good featherweight can beat a mediocre heavyweight. In his smallness he is quicker, and more agile. The featherweight just has to focus his training on not getting hit, more than in throwing punches.

- The writer is a PhD candidate in political economy at SMC University. [email protected] 

Download the BBI Judgement by all seven Judges - Civil Appeal No. E291 of 2021
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