Suluhu’s ascendance to the presidency in Kenya’s neighbour will see a change of narrative resulting in increased trade and investment opportunities...
Only Only Kenyans, not Deep State will decide who becomes the next president
Nairobi Senator JOHNSON SAKAJA spoke to VIVIANNE WANDERA about his arrest, CJ Maraga leading by example and why DP Ruto might be a hard nut to crack
Why do we have a Commission for revenue allocation but not one for revenue generation?
That’s a question I’ve asked for a long time. The problem in this country is we are fighting for very limited resources. We need to be encouraging counties to generate more revenue rather than fighting about how to divide it. We need to think about how to infuse an economic and social council that spurs and sees how to be more efficient and how to reduce wastage and how to generate revenue.
What was the Sakaka formula that broke the stalemate?
The formula was very simple. We felt that we needed to have a few principles. The first one was that no county should lose any money. You can’t have a county getting 20 per cent less. That would mean people will be fired and projects will stall. We wanted counties that needed more money to get more money and those that would have lost money just stay at a base of Sh316 billion which is what we had before. The lowest gainer now is Tharaka Nithi with Sh290 million and the biggest gainer is Nairobi with Sh3.3 billion.
Would you say that Kenya is turning into a police state?
We’re sliding back into shrinking democratic space, but I don’t think it’s the president’s doing. I think it’s overzealous people around him, especially within the security sector who are trying to play politics. They are trying to coerce people to vote in a certain way and to believe in things they don’t believe in. Yet, this country fought for the expansion of the democratic space in the early 90s and repealing of Section 2A of the constitution that allowed multi-partyism. Kenya of 2020 cannot be further back than Kenya of 1980.
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We need to accept that we can have divergent views and opinions without assuming that means you are not supporting the president’s agenda. I’d urge the president to really shake up those within his administration who are trying to mix issues of governance and security with politics. Every person who is elected has a mind of their own and should be able to be persuaded by sound argument and not by handcuffs and police cells.
The popularity of DP Ruto... Does that mean Deep State underestimated the power of the underdog?
This Deep State, I don’t know what it is. But if you say those within government, we have seen ministers insulting him. I think what people will come to realise is that the final decision will not be of a Deep State or shadowy figures. It will be a decision of the people. Kenyans will decide who their president is. If you try to arm-twist people then sometimes the people will revolt. The approach may not be right but ultimately the people will decide. Even I only have one vote.
As Nairobi Senator, you could be facing an early election after CJ David Maraga advised the president to dissolve Parliament...
Yes. If the president takes that advice and dissolves parliament, we will go into an early election. The constitution is clear that if he is petitioned on certain issues then he can ask the president to dissolve parliament then the president shall dissolve parliament. I know it’s a decision that someone can appeal in the High Court (which has been done already).
The president also has a discretion on when to dissolve bunge because the constitution doesn’t say when. He can dissolve it in 2022 or tomorrow. But I am ready for an election. I’ll be glad to go back and get a mandate from the people who elected me.
Why is the two-third gender rule so hard to implement? I mean, it has taken... 10 years?
It’s hard to implement because you cannot force a political outcome. Kenya has a majority of female voters but they are the ones who choose to vote for men because of maybe the few women who come out to vie and cultural backwardness in some areas which dictate that women cannot lead.
You cannot force the electorate to vote in a certain way. What we need to do is affirmative action which is trying to get more women into these positions. The Supreme Court does not have gender balance and what has the Chief Justice done about it? If he (Maraga) wants parliament to do this, then he should lead by example.
The law states that the term of MPs and president are mutually exclusive. This means Uhuru is not affected by the dissolution (if it happens)...this is very confusing.
It’s not. In many countries, you have election of MPs or congressmen which is different from that of presidents. If parliament dissolves in 2021, the MPs who come in will have a term of five years but in 2022 there will still be a presidential election. There is no confusion. You can have overlapping elections.
You were arrested for breaking Covid-19 curfew rules. Power has its limits or what other lessons came out?
The biggest lesson for me was to always be aware that society looks up to me as a leader to always set a good example. Beyond that, there were other political nuances which do not excuse that behaviour. However, I think the country should open up because you say people should not break Covid rules but we see politicians holding huge rallies with no Covid rules being followed. It’s as if Covid wakes up at 9pm when curfew starts.
Was someone somewhere trying to embarrass you, put you in your place with the arrest?
Possibly that was it. They said I was with nine other people but when we went to court and the judge asked for the other nine people, they couldn’t produce them. They passed very many other establishments that were open but only came for me. Sometimes somebody can set a trap for you and sometimes that trap works against them and you come out stronger. They were trying to but when I apologised, Kenyans were happy that I had taken responsibility.
President Uhuru can’t run for a third term. The dissolution scuttles BBI and everything else ‘dynasties’ were planning?
I don’t think so because the dissolution is in his hands. That period of dissolution can help him pass BBI through parliament but there are some clauses they want to change which means we have to go to a referendum. So, it’s about timing and if we have the budget to do a referendum, a by-election once there’s a dissolution and an election, all in less than two years.
Is Team Kenya going to be a party?
Team Kenya is not a party and I don’t think it is going to be a party. It is a caucus of leaders who will continue coming together on matters of national interest.