Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi has opposed the bid to create the post of a powerful prime minister in the possible changes to the Constitution.
Mr Mudavadi, while making his submissions to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) task-force at KICC yesterday, also opposed creation of regional governments.
He claimed some politicians were pushing for the third tier of government ostensibly to reward loyal governors serving their final term in office.
Mudavadi, who declared support for the BBI process, noted that a powerful PM’s post would lead to two centres of power, what was likely to be a major cause of infighting in government.
He warned against any efforts to remove the term limits of the president, governors or any other public and constitutional office holders.
Proposals to create an executive PM post and introduction of 14 regional governments and assemblies have been popular with ODM leader Raila Odinga. He also wants adoption of a parliamentary system led by the powerful premier.
ODM is currently seeking to reintroduce these recommendations for consideration after the BBI team failed to capture them in its report launched last year at the Bomas of Kenya.
The proposals on the PM’s post and the third tier of governance have since gained currency in the ongoing BBI regional consultative forums, with the recent meetings in Kakamega and Mombasa supporting them.
Mudavadi told the Steering Committee on the Implementation of the Building Bridges Report that the country should retain an executive president.
He said if the country ends up with a prime minister, then they should be picked from the president’s party and not the party with majority of members in Parliament, as suggested in the report. This will ensure there is no wrangling between the two offices, said Mudavadi.
“The structure of the Executive arm of government must uphold and respect the principle of one person-one-vote. We are strictly opposed to any attempt to create multiple, conflicting or ambiguous centres of State authority,” he said.
Mudavadi added: “The Head of State must also be the Head of Government and Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces of Kenya. This authority must not be shared or open to multiple interpretations.”
Mudavadi said his proposal for the PM to be picked from the president’s party was informed by his experience in the Grand Coalition Government formed by now retired President Mwai Kibaki and Raila after the chaotic 2007 elections.
He said it became difficult to run the government, as Kibaki and Raila represented opposing camps that were not ready to take instructions from the rival side. “It reached a point where when the PM called for a Cabinet sub-committee meeting, if you were from Kibaki’s PNU faction, you feigned commitment. We developed a situation where there was always lack of quorum,” said Mudavadi.
The decision to appear for hearings and declare support for the BBI process, spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila, was a U-turn by Mudavadi who had dismissed the process as intended to create positions for the elite.
He defended himself for flip-flopping, saying his party wanted dialogue devoid of personalities. Mudavadi said ANC rejected push for a third tier of government, noting the perception in the public was that the seats were for rewarding retiring governors.
ANC wants the 47 counties retained to protect devolution and prevent marginalisation.
Kenya University Students’ Organisation also presented their views and, among other things, proposed that the Higher Education Loans Board loan be interest free or issued as a grant.