, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 20 – Jubilee Senators have made it clear that they no longer back the push for a referendum now that the opposition has politicised the affair.
The Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki accused former Prime Minister Raila Odinga of hijacking what was initially an apolitical push for an increase in the revenue allocated to counties.
“The issue of referendum was raised by the Senate. But it was hacked into by partisan interests. And although we are saying we are not going for a referendum, nothing prevents constitutional changes to come at some point but they should take a life of their own,” he said.
The parliamentarians now say that they will embrace dialogue given the goodwill demonstrated by the Executive and the citizenry’s reluctance to return to the ballot so soon after the General Election.
“The country is not ready to hold a referendum at the moment and therefore any politics and discussions and rallies promoting a referendum according to us can only attribute to delayed services to the people of Kenya,” Kindiki.
They have however made it clear that they will not shy away from going toe-to-toe with their opposition counterparts in the Upper House should they insist on taking the referendum route.
Deputy President William Ruto assured the Senators that the Executive was indeed committed to addressing their grievances and would increase the amount allocated to counties to 40 percent without their being the need for a referendum.
“The 32 plus percent we have allocated this year tells you that within a year or two the allocation would have already reached the 40 percent and that is in accordance with the Jubilee manifesto,” Ruto stressed.
Further, Ruto said the amounts that will be allocated to counties in the coming financial year will be based on the functions the Transition Authority would have transferred to them.
“The sharing of revenue next year will be informed by a much more scientific mechanism that we have agreed Senate will undertake to unbundle and cost the various functions so the allocations will not be on the basis of guess work,” the Deputy President explained.
The Senators on their part promised to foster better relations with their counterparts in the National Assembly in order to avoid a repeat of the power play that preceded the adoption of the County Revenue Bill.
“When the two Houses resume on September 17 we expect to see a more harmonised, smoother and synchronised working between the National Assembly and the Senate,” Kithure said.
The power play has however moved beyond Parliament’s precincts and into the political arena with the Odinga-led Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) pledging to press on with their push for a referendum.
CORD has also denied using the referendum as a ploy to get Odinga into power, “We are simply interested in entrenching devolution so the interests of Kenyans can be better served,” the Orange Democratic Movement Secretary General Anyang’ Nyong’o said.