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Sharp rifts emerge among Meru MCAs over Punguza Mizigo Bill

By Phares Mutembei | Aug 2nd 2019 | 2 min read

Sharp division has emerged among Meru MCAs on whether to back or oppose the Punguza Mizigo Bill, 2019, moments after being handed to office of the Speaker.

Meru Speaker Joseph Kaberi had only told MCAs that the bill had been handed to his office before rifts emerged pitting proponents and opponents of the referendum bill.

Interestingly, a section of nominated MCAs led by Ruth Limungi and Salome Mutua announced they will support the bill because it proposes scrapping of nominated slots.

“I bleive the bill is good. Abolishing the nominated slots will be good because it will reduce the wage bill and release the money for development projects. Though some people (nominated members) will lose employment, the citizens will benefit,” said Ms Limungi.

But their nominated colleagues Emily Makena, Grace Gakii and Gacheri Muthuri said they will oppose the bill because it seeks to scrap the slots, compromising gender equality and justice for ‘marginalised’.

Igoji East MCA John Kireria and Municipality’s Elias Murega are among a group supporting bill, with the former taking a swipe at National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale who warned Garissa MCAs against passing it.

Mr Duale was quoted asking Ward Reps against supporting the reduction of constituencies in Garissa.

“As MCAs who live with the people at the grassroots, we know the financial burden they are carrying. We want to warn Mr Duale and other political party leaders not to intimidate assemblies. I am for reducing salaries of the top-earning politicians, and many other clauses,” Kireria said.

Mr Murega said one of the reasons he will vote ‘yes’ is the proposal to allocate at least 35 per cent of national revenue to counties.

“Counties are starved of cash for development. Most of the monies are spent on recurrent, yet we need emphasis put on water, roads, agriculture and other projects. It is not the perfect bill, but giving counties more resources convinced me. That is why we are rallying our colleagues to support it,” Murega added.

Public Accounts Committee Chairman Kimathi Ithibua said though he was ‘fine’ with large parts of the bill, he will oppose it because it denies MCAs a chance to ‘improve’ it, through amendments.

“While most of the provisions are good, there are a few sections which we would like to be amended. Unfortunately county assemblies do not have the opportunity to amend it. Though I like 8 out of 10 in the document, I will reject it!” said Mr Ithibua.

Ithibua said he liked the proposal to abolish nominated legislators at county and national level, but does not support the proposal to reduce the number of electoral areas.

He said scrapping the deputy governor position is good, but not reducing the salary of representatives, because of many responsibilities.

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi addresses the County Assembly on July 31, 2019. The MCAs are sharply divided over the Punguza Mizigo Bill. [Standard]


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