, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 14 – Councillors from various parts of the country have openly disagreed with President Mwai Kibaki over support for the proposed Constitution, after their demands were rejected.
The civic leaders numbering over 4,500 wanted an assurance they would get a pay rise before agreeing to support the Yes campaign at the grassroots level.
Association of Local Government Authorities of Kenya Chairman Taraiya ole Kores complained that civic leaders were poorly paid yet the government had not shown commitment for their welfare.
“As the civic leaders in the country, we are saying that it is unfortunate that you only call us when you need us to do something for you but when we have concerns you don’t want to address them. We have said that before we agree on anything we would like our minister and our President to address our plight,” he said.
The President however told the councillors in their faces that they could not use matters of national unity to arm-twist the government.
“Don’t let us imagine that you can bully anybody; neither can we say I don’t want you to talk. There is no one who is going to be told that kind of thing!” he said.
He had sat pensively as Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Local Government Minister Musalia Mudavadi were jeered by the councillors, and when he took to the podium, the Head of State sought to remind the civic leaders of the importance of passing the draft.
“I want us to take one thing serious; we are in our own country, it is not for somebody else to shout to him nor is it a matter over which we can bully any other or call any other bad names,” he told them.
The councillors had earlier jeered Committee of Experts Chairman Nzamba Kitonga as he enumerated salient points in the draft, forcing Mr Mudavadi to intervene and calm them down.
“We have been invited here by your parent ministry so that we can come and give you free ngumbaru (adult education) which touches on the proposed Constitution,” he said.
Mr Mudavadi moved to salvage the situation by announcing a Sh5,000 increase in allowances but this did little to win the support of the councillors.
Mr Mudavadi and the President urged the councillors to support the draft saying that the counties will give them a bigger say in deciding how the revenue will be used at the grassroots.
The President said that the government was open to those holding divergent views on the Constitution.
Speaking after the meeting, a section of the councillors seemed to disagree with the colleagues saying; “We were called here to discuss matters of national issues and they come here to ask for bribes, this is not right.”