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Revenue debate continues as Senate adjourns

By Rawlings Otieno | August 5th 2020
Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka presides over the session during the Senate Special Sitting of the former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waitutu impeachment motion on January 29, 2020. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The debate on how the 47 counties will share the national cake continues after senators failed yesterday to pass the third revenue-sharing formula for the seventh time.

Instead, the Senate voted to adjourn the debate and sought more days to build consensus and vote in a non-contested manner when they resume.

Interestingly, the senators who last week had shot down a similar adjournment motion, which was moved by Minority Leader James Orengo (Siaya) and seconded by Moses Wetang’ula (Bungoma) voted in support of an adjournment.

Some claimed that senators opposed to the proposed formula had retreated after sensing defeat.

Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio decried the hypocrisy of those who opposed Orengo’s motion last week and moved the same today.  He said it merely meant postponing a problem, but with the goodwill of all sides, consensus will be achieved.

“We have had these moments before. And that is why we wanted to move with it today,” Poghisio said.

Added Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi: “Do we help this country by further extending the gridlock? We have in this order paper three or four proposals to resolve this matter. The way forward is to deal with the problem we have.”

Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata wondered what had changed since last week. “Before this motion is supported, I need your ruling whether it’s the same as the one moved last week by Senator Orengo, and which we defeated,” he said.

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In an adjournment motion moved by Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen yesterday, 34 senators voted in support, while 26 voted against.

“There is an opportunity for all of us as a Senate to have a conversation around this subject matter and to come to a conclusion so that those who are losing by a huge margin may perhaps lose very little and those counties gaining with a huge margin may gain a little and keep our country together,” Murkomen said.

Last Tuesday, Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja’s and his Makueni counterpart Mutula Kilonzo Jnr’s axis shot down Kang’ata’s amendment to pass the Finance Committee’s report but defer its implementation for two years.

Yesterday, a majority of the senators who had voted against Orengo’s adjournment motion changed tune and voted in support.

“It is only fools who don’t change their minds. We have since changed our minds. There are more than three proposed amendments lined up in the Order Paper. That is the more reason we need to adjourn,” Vihiga Senator George Khaniri said.

Khaniri said the formula proposed by the committee will mean counties like Vihiga will just close shop and revert to the national government.

No winners and losers

“Let’s come up with a formula that will be acceptable to us all. There is no enjoyment when your key neighbour is losing and cannot stand on his feet,” Khaniri said. Orengo said there were no winners and losers in the debate. “The original sin was creating gainers and losers. In dealing with equity, it is about dealing with needs. We need do consultation and report back to this house next week.”

Wetang’ula said the country was on the edge and should arrive at a middle ground where no county loses funds. “We don’t have the luxury of time. Kenyans believe in this House. Now it is obvious that we are adjourning. Let us look for a venue, sit as a House and agree,” Wetang’ula said.

The Bungoma lawmaker argued that pain for one Kenyan is pain for all, adding that his county, which was to gain Sh980 million more, is ready to lose some of its cash so that Wajir County can gain some funds.

“In a majoritarian system like ours, the winner takes it all. Pain for one Kenyan is pain for all,” he said. Sakaja’s amendment, which was poised to carry the day, was shelved to a later date.

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