Azimio threatens to shoot down bipartisan report if it doesn't address cost of living

Wiper Democratic Movement leader Kalonzo Musyoka and other Azimo leaders Eugene Wamalwa and Wycliffe Oparanya at ACK St James Church Embali parish in Luanda, Vihiga County on November 12, 2023. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Barely a week after President William Ruto lauded the central role the National Dialogue team is playing in bringing Kenyans together, cracks are emerging in the negotiation room.

The team that is in the final stages of writing its report the president said will “accelerate our transformation, deepen our democracy and entrench national unity” is reading from different scripts.

Yesterday, senior members of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition threatened to reject the report if it fails to address the cost of living.

The battle is set to take place in the National Assembly and Senate as the National Dialogue Committee (Nadco) finalises its report and hands it to President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The committee, co-chaired by Kalonzo Musyoka and Kimani Ichung’wah, announced it has adopted the draft report outline for its final report that will document the outcomes of the 73-day dialogue process that involved various stakeholders and citizens.

The final report will be presented to Parliament for consideration in the next few days.

The coalition’s leadership, speaking in Vihiga, said President Ruto’s administration has failed to heed the people’s calls to lower the cost of living.

They blamed the government for the current high cost of living, saying the administration has made a string of bad policies that have exacerbated the situation.

Azimio politicians led by Mr Kalanzo and DAP-K party leader Eugene Wamalwa spoke at St James ACK Church Embali in Luanda constituency, Vihiga County, where they presided over a fundraiser.

Both Kalonzo and Wamalwa are members of Nadco.

The Azimio team said it had its demands, including lowering of living through the bipartisan talks.

“If there will be no way to lower the cost of living there will be no deal to sign as Azimio team,” said Kalonzo.

He highlighted the current high cost of living as a hindrance to a better Kenya and said as Azimio, they had a mandate to save Kenyans.

“As we begin making the report tomorrow (Monday), we will ensure it has the will of the people before we sign and hand it to parliament,” said Kalonzo

Mr Wamalwa said they would not sign the document if it didn’t endorse strategies to lower the cost of living.

“A wise man listens, and as those at the table, we have heard the views of Kenyans through your leaders, and we will ensure that the report addresses this or else we will not sign it,” said Wamalwa. He said that the report will have strategies on how to lower taxation, fuel prices and the cost of food commodities.

Report debate

Both the National Assembly and Senate opposition leadership present said they won’t even debate the report if it does not address the high cost of living.

Led by National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi and his Senate counterpart Stewart Madzayo, the lawmakers said they were ready to mobilise their members in opposing the report.

Wandayi, who sits in the Nadco, said the bipartisan process of national dialogue, between Kenya Kwanza and Azimio was meant to accelerate Kenya’s transformation, deepen democracy, and entrench national unity.

“We will stand firm to ensure that we keep the government in check and ensure the cost of living is addressed in the report,” said Mr Wandayi.

The Opposition leaders faulted the Kenya Kwanza government for overseeing the most contested Budget in history ever that aims to squeeze every last penny from Kenyans in terms of taxation.

The leaders also said runaway corruption and theft of public resources have aided the rise in the cost of living.

“The MPs and Senators will seek advice, and we will tell them not to support or endorse the report when tabled in parliament,” said former Kakamega Governor and ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya.

Host Senator Godfrey Osotsi, raised concerns about Ruto’s leadership, accusing him of not fulfilling his campaign promises.

“Ruto should resign as the president and allow Azimio to show him how to run this country,” said Osotsi.

Nairobi Senator and ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna highlighted taxation that he termed punitive.

Other leaders present were, Kitui Senator Enock Wambua, Saboat MP Caleb Amisi, Senator Catherine Mumo (nominated), Luanda MP Dick Maungu, Kathiani MP Robert Mbui, Matungulu MP Stephen Mule, and Vihiga deputy governor Wilberforce Kitiezo among others.

Amisi urged Kalonzo to ensure that the Bipartisan report should be focused on the cost of living.

He threatened to mobilise fellow MPs to shoot down the report when tabled on the floor of the parliament if it fail to focus on the soaring cost of living.

“We warn the committee that if it doesn’t address the cost of living in the report to be tabled in the House we will shoot it down,” said Amisi.

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