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Ruto ally wants Senate scrapped

by kenya-tribune
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A Jubilee MP allied to Deputy President William Ruto has proposed that the Senate be abolished and the positions of Nominated MP and MCA scrapped.

If adopted, Caleb Kositany’s radical proposal would occasion a constitutional amendment through a referendum ahead of the 2022 polls.

In a later to National Assembly Speaker dated September 17, Kositany says the positions cost the public over Sh3 billion annually, “which constitutes a heavy burden to the taxpayer.”

He does not mention the 349-strong National Assembly, where he is a member.

Kositany has asked Muturi to direct the legal service directorate to assist him in formulating the bill.

“We have to think in the long-term and I would want anyone else to challenge me. What does the Senate do that is so special that cannot be done by the National Assembly? I don’t see any reason why we should have the Senate overburden taxpayers,” he said.

Read: Reduce counties and number of MPs to curb rising wage bill, says religious group

The MP whose Soy constituency borders Ruto’s Turbo in Uasin Gishu however told the Star that his proposal has nothing to do with the 2022 politics and was purely motivated by a desire to trim the huge wage bill.

“I have not even spoken to the Deputy President about it. I have only spoken to the people of Soy. The Deputy President has nothing to do with my bill at all,” he told the Star yesterday.

Kositany is one of Ruto’s close associates who often conducts political missions on his behalf.

However, last evening, the Ruto’s communications director David Mugonyi said the DP speaks for himself and should not be dragged into the initiatives of other individuals.

“Kositany is an MP and he speaks for himself. As you are aware, the DP has said he speaks for himself. We have to stop this notion that whenever an MP from Rift Valley speaks, he is an ally or speaks for the DP,” Mugonyi said.

“Above all, interrogate his proposal — Is it feasible or just hot air? That calls for change of the constitution. What is the DP’s stand on the same? His view on the referendum is clear,” he added.

More: Aukot wants woman rep post abolished, MPs reduced to 194

OPPOSED

Ruto’s supporters vehemently opposed a proposal for a referendum by Nasa’s Raila Odinga, with the DP derisively dismissing its advocates as “lazy and incompetent” politicians.

While addressing the devolution conference in April, Raila had proposed a parliamentary system of government with a three a three-tier devolved structure comprising 14 administrative regions.

In May, Ruto shot back: “Lazy and incompetent people who don’t want to work hard, and incompetent people who can’t formulate programmes, and those who lose elections want to use the Constitution as their bogeyman.”

The DP’s allies then went on the warpath discrediting calls for a referendum as a ploy by some politicians (read Raila) to get to power through other means after failing to win elections.

Since March 9 truce between Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ruto’s supporters have remained suspicious of the handshake christened the Building Bridges Initiative.

The 14-member steering committee formed thereafter is expected to recommend broad changes to the structure of governance and the law ahead of the 2022 presidential elections.

Yesterday, Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka said Kositany’s proposal should await the recommendations from the handshake taskforce.

“The Senate subject is quite a big issue and I am quite sure it is a constitutional issue. I urge Kositany to wait for the building bridges initiative so that it is brought on board,” said Kalonzo.

Read also: MPs want House size cut to reduce wage bill

HEAVY BURDEN

In his notification to the speaker that came smack in the middle of the raging taxation debate, Kositany says the object of the Bill is to “reduce the cost of representation to the public, reduce the public wage bill and promote prudent use of public funds.”

He also wants to axe the 47 women representatives whom he said should be encouraged to compete with men for elective office.

“The other issue is nominated MCA’s. They are so many. Like in my Uasin Gishu county, we have 30 elected and 17 nominated. The quorum for the county to sit is 15. This means that 15 unelected people can sit and pass something that would be binding to the electorate who did not vote for them.”

Kenya has about 770 nominated MCA’s and 1450 elected ones across the country. Each MCA has a personal assistant. Each MP also has constituency manager besides their PA.But Kositany’s proposal triggered instant resistance from a section of nominated legislators and experts who rubbished it as a publicity stunt.

Former Transitional Authority chairman Kinuthia Wa Mwangi said those pushing for the abolition of the Senate have little or no understanding of devolved systems of governance.

“The framers of the Constitution were not wrong when they created Senate as a protector of the devolved system of government. You shudder when you hear of plans or plans to scrap the counties’ first line of defence. Its just like removing a life support for the units,” he said.

Ford Kenya nominated MP Nasir Ibrahim said the proposal would be retrogressive and a clawback on the strides Kenya has made in democracy.“It is unfortunate that in this era someone can talk about doing away with nominated seats and the senate as provide for in the Constitution. I don’t see the scrapping of these positions drastically reducing the wage bill,” Ibrahim said.

Laikipia Senator John Kinyua said Kenya was indeed over-represented but dismissed the idea of scrapping the Senate as wishful thinking because the house has played its cardinal role as the defender of counties.

According to Kinyua, Kenya should scrap some constituencies and reduce the counties from 47 to just 14.

“Let us be realistic and improve on what the Constitution provides. We need to significantly adjust the system of governance to ensure we bring down the wage bill,” said Kinyua.

To deal with the country’s financial crisis, the lawmaker challenged the executive to deal firmly with corruption and plough the resources recovered to the economy.

STRENGTH

Currently the National Assembly has 290 elected members, 47 women elected from each of the 47 counties and12 members nominated to represent women, youth and the marginalised.

These add up to 349 members

The Senate is comprised of 67 members — 47 elected senators from each county, 16 women nominated for gender balance and four representatives of the youth and people with disabilities.

It is not the first time a petition to amend the constitution and change the structure of governance or representation has been moved. In February, Tiaty (Kanu) MP Kassait Kamket proposed amendments to the Constitution to introduce the positions of prime minister, two deputies and retain a ceremonial president as Head of State.

The proposal is pending before the budget committee for costing to determine the impact of the changes.

See also: How many MPs do you need to make law?

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