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Raila Odinga re-opens push for referendum on county funds

By Steve Mkawale and Michael Saitoti | September 15th 2013
  Cord leader Raila Odinga (Centre) is annointed a Samburu elder. [PHOTO: MICHAEL SAITOTI/STANDARD]


By Steve Mkawale and Michael Saitoti

The opposition alliance on Saturday took its referendum campaign to Samburu County where they urged residents to support their quest to amend the Constitution to give more funds to the counties.

Led by Raila Odinga, the leaders maintained that the Coalition for Reform and Democracy’s push for change in the supreme law was not a strategy for the 2017 general election but to support devolution.

“We are not campaigning for 2017; all we want is to have strong devolved governments that will offer services to the people as enshrined in the Constitution. Those thinking that we are fighting to get power are mistaken,” said Raila during the homecoming party for Baawa Ward Representative Julius Leshoomo at Kisima in Samburu County. 

 Equal sharing

Raila said their mission is to see devolution succeed and ensure that the amount allocated to the counties is enshrined in the Constitution, rather than it being a declaration by the country’s leadership.

He vowed to ensure that a referendum is conducted to change the law to allow equal sharing of national resources between the central government and devolved units.

“We do not want to entrust a greater share of national resources to the central government where a few leaders distribute the monies to people they like and neglect others,” said Raila. He said if the referendum is successful, then all counties will be allocated 50 per cent of national resources, not the current 40 per cent.

VAT debate

Raila was accompanied by Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati, Vihiga Women’s Representative Dorcas Kidogo and former MP Magerer Lang’at.

Wetang’ula said devolution should reflect the will of Kenyans and not a few individuals who do not want to improve  the welfare of poor Kenyans.

Kidogo said their call was bound to be faced with obstacles in the National Assembly. “We are behind our colleagues at the Senate that a million signatures from Kenyans be collected to successfully have the law altered for the good of many Kenyans,” he said.

On Value Added Tax, Lang’at said it’s wrong for the government to pretend that by increasing tax on raw materials, it would not affect the prices of essential commodities.

“The government is insincere by claiming the VAT does not affect the prices of milk, bread maize flour and other essential commodities because these products go through a process that is subject to the tax,” he said.


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