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Coalition for Reforms and Democracy to push reforms in new year

COUNTIES
By RAILA ODINGA AND KALONZO MUSYOKA | January 1st 2015
Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) Deputy Leader Kalonzo Musyoka

History is full of nations that once realised they were on the decline then embarked on deliberate efforts at re-engineering, rediscovery and redesign to emerge tops again.

It is also full of nations that embraced denial and a false sense of greatness as permanent companions and ended down and out, overtaken by those they once held in scorn and low esteem.

It is our hope, dream and prayer that in 2015, hand in hand, as Opposition, Government and citizens, we can walk together to make Kenya one nation that redesigned and re-engineered itself and found its path back to greatness out of terrifying challenges.

We express this hope and hold fast to this dream well aware that we begin 2015 almost exactly where we were at this time in 2014.

A number of challenges stand in our way as we begin this year. A great majority of our citizens are unsure of their security, where the next meal will come from and whether they will afford school fees with the ever-rising cost of living, whether the title deed to the land they live on has been forged by somebody else.

Many wonder whether we will act in time to seal loopholes that make our elections so inconclusive and often leave more questions than answers.

The Constitution, our most outstanding collective achievement in recent years, appears in peril with attempts to roll back its promise in favour of the old order. Initially, the target was clearly devolution, the centrepiece of our new order. But lately, this has extended to basic rights, freedoms and liberties that seemed well protected by the progressive Bill of Rights.

However, we firmly believe in the power of unity for positive action. It is in moments of crisis that nations turn to their founding documents, the Constitution in our case, for answers on where the country intended to go and how.

Our constitution remains unwavering in its stand that prosperity and justice are our all time goals. They shall be secure if we dwell in unity, peace and liberty. Plenty shall be found within our borders.

We therefore declare 2015 the year of building a firewall around and strengthening our Constitution to save it from further erosion and manipulation.

We are embarking on a massive national project for regeneration, rediscovery and growth. We do not intend to act to the exclusion of the Government. As Opposition, we remain ready to engage in dialogue with the Government and our door will always remain open to all initiatives that will make the lives of Kenyans better.

Dialogue is actually the only option that the Government has yet to try and we remain committed to it in the same spirit that we called for it last year, in the interest of the nation.

In the meantime through a constitutional, consultative and inclusive referendum process, we plan to seal loopholes that, in our view, bred insecurity, curtailed county governments and created uncertainty over land ownership, in addition to increased feeling of exclusion.

Cost of living and insecurity remain a priority. Largely because of taxation and monopoly, the cost of living, particularly food and housing remains intolerably high. The price of maize flour is three times higher than six years ago. The same goes for milk and bread. Rent has gone up as a result of taxes.

Despite promises to the contrary, the cost of electricity remains high, complete with very erratic billing and supply. This is not an issue we can address via referendum.

We therefore intend to use legislation in the House targeting taxation and monopolistic tendencies in addition to other legal measures that would force the Government to intervene and ease the burden of a majority of our citizens.

As part of our effort to re-engineer and redesign our path to stability and greatness as a nation, we will spearhead efforts to address a number of other crises through amendment to the Constitution by way of referendum, a process we began in the final half of 2014.

Having set up a Committee of Experts to guide the process, the Okoa Kenya Movement has settled on five key issues: Devolution; principles of inclusivity and equity; strengthening of public institutions and constitutional commissions; electoral reforms and land reforms.

A comprehensive draft referendum Bill setting out our case in detail is ready and will be unveiled in due course in preparation for the referendum.

Securing devolution is critical to our continued existence in peace and stability as one nation in diversity. Devolution is also critical to unleashing the potential of all parts of our country without one depending on the other.

We also need ways to effectively promote the smooth transition from the old order to the new constitutional dispensation and reduce expenditure by avoiding the duplication and competition currently witnessed between the national and county governments.

The constitutional amendments we are seeking via referendum will target enhancement of security by ensuring greater co-ordination between national and county governments.

We will extend our efforts to include strengthening institutions, among them the Supreme Court and the High Court, the Ethics and anti corruption commission, the Salaries and Remunerations Commission and the Commission for Revenue Allocation.

May we jointly embark on efforts to make Kenya belong in the first category of nations this year.

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