Leaders split on devolution implementation
Updated Sunday, August 18th 2013 at 12:07 GMT +3
Fresh concerns have emerged over implementation of devolution in line with the Constitution.
Political coalitions have rolled their sleeves and are engaged in a contest that has more than meets the eye.
Gloves came off as leaders of the CORD and Jubilee coalitions addressed more than 700 lawyers attending the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) Annual Conference in Kwale County this week.
Legal experts attending the conference threw their weight behind the debate with divergent interpretation of the Constitution. The theme of the Conference was Realising Devolution and Decentralisation Under the Constitution.
The Commission for Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) Chairman Charles Nyachae said those pushing to implement the Constitution have a right to do so.
“Governors also have a right to amend the Constitution if they have valid reasons and grounds for devolution to succeed,” Nyachae said.
The CIC chairman, however, warned that pushing to amend the Constitution may open the door for forces determined to derail the supreme law,” Nyachae says.
LSK Chairman Eric Mutua said that the Constitution is the supreme law and Chapter 11 that provides for devolution must be implemented.
Lawyer Gibson Kamau Kuria said a referendum to amend the Constitution barely five months after the General Election does not bode well for the country.
Retired judge Justice Lee Muthoga said Cord and Jubilee coalitions should organise a national conference to resolve disputes on the implementation of devolution.
“We risk polarising the country just the way it happened in the 2005 referendum leading to violence witnessed after the General Election in 2007,” said Justice Muthoga.
However, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the Government has no intention of implementing devolution and called for a change from a Presidential to Parliamentary system of government.
“Devolution globally has never been successful under a Presidential system of government,” Raila said.
Raila, who presented a research paper titled Devolution in Kenya: Prospects, Challenges and the Future, said the Constitution should also be amended to increase resources from the national government to counties.
“What we have today is a clique of the wealthy Kenyans who want to maintain the status quo and hold Wanjiku (ordinary citizen) at ransom… the Government has deployed various mechanisms to ensure devolution dies a slow and painful death,” said Raila.
Raila said that history repeats itself and referred to the Hansard, narrating how the late opposition leader Ronald Ngala moved a motion in Parliament in a bid to censure President Jomo Kenyatta in 1964.
“The same gang has re-converged to kill devolution 50 years down the line,” Raila said.
Deputy President William Ruto said that implementation of devolution as enshrined in the Constitution is on course. “Those pushing for a referendum on grounds that the Government is not committed to devolution are insincere.
According to the Deputy President, the proposed amendment amounts to overhauling the Constitution.
Former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said the Constitution provides for a restructuring of the colonial Provincial Administration, which the Jubilee Coalition has entrenched. “County commissioners, chiefs and their assistants are a pointer that governors are not fully recognised,” said Kalonzo.
He said that the ‘core elite’ is in the process of reinventing itself to reap benefits of what he termed as a centralised system. “The Constitution should be amended to end the current supremacy stalemate between the Senate and National Assembly to protect the devolution and convert the Speaker into President or Chairman of Parliament,” Kalonzo said.
The former VP said that a Parliamentary system is more accountable compared to the current Presidential system.
Chairman of the Governors’ Council Isaac Ruto, who belongs to the Jubilee coalition, said the writing is on the wall that the Government is fighting to kill devolution and render Senate irrelevant. He said that he supports a Parliamentary system and ideological positions taken by the Cord coalition on implementation of the Constitution and devolution.
Abdikadir Mohammed, the advisor of President Uhuru Kenyatta on the Constitution, said that there is no crisis in implementing the Constitution.
Deputy President William Ruto, Bomet governor Isaac Ruto clash over referendum
Updated Sunday, August 18th 2013 at 14:36 GMT +3
Narok, Kenya: There was drama as Deputy President, William Ruto and Bomet County governor, Isaac Ruto clashed publicly over the raging clamour for constitutional referendum on devolution.
The duo who shared a podium at Emurua Dikirr primary school in Narok County at the weekend during the homecoming party of Emurua Dikirr constituency MP, Johana Ngeno sharply differed on the referendum issue.
The deputy president who led more than 15 MPs allied to the Jubilee coalition launched scathing attack on the proponents of the push for referendum saying Kenyans were not ready to be subjected to another political campaign when they were yet to settle after the recent general election.
Isaac who appeared angered by the comments made by the Jubilee legislators in attendance said nothing would stop him from his push for the referendum and that he was ready for any eventuality including threats to eject him from the coalition.
He downplayed the accusations levelled against him that he was being used by the Cord coalition to undermine the government noting that his agenda was clear and void of any political hand.
“Mine is simple and clear on devolution and I must not kneel down to anyone to demonstrate my point. The central government should be honest and stop taking us in circles on what is clear to every Kenyan. Nothing will stop us from asking for the 40% revenue for the County governments,” said Ruto.
He said having realized the laxity and non commitment by the central government to implement devolution as required, governors have set up a plan of collecting 1 million signatures in readiness for a referendum.
Ruto who is also the chairman of summit of governors said he was in Jubilee to stay but would not keep mum on whoever shows intention of disrupting devolution.
“To start moving around the country and branding others traitors when they ask for more resources to be devolved was an archaic way of thinking and mere hoodwinking of Kenyans,” noted Isaac.
He said as governors they wanted to have a strong senate which can effectively play the oversight role on the operation of county governments and accused the national assembly of trying to hijack the process from the upper house.
The summit chairman said it was primitive for a section of jubilee politicians to attack him for meeting former Prime Minister Raila Odinga recently in Mombasa saying he had liberty to engage with all the leaders in constructive engagement.
However, the deputy president who spoke emotionally dismissed the call for referendum saying it was ill-timed and with ulterior motive.