NYANDARUA, Kenya, Aug 18 – Deputy President William Ruto has cautioned governors and senators from the Jubilee Coalition against associating with the push for a constitutional referendum saying it’s a ploy by the proponents to undermine the government and hound it out of power.
Speaking at Turbo Hill Catholic Church in Nyahururu, the Deputy President said leaders in the opposition are determined to use devolution to the fight the President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration.
“Don’t be mislead by the clamour for a referendum, because it has nothing to do with the addressing the devolution,” he added. “This referendum is meant to cause political confusion so that the government fails and the man who is known for telling stories can come back.”
Ruto asked those clamouring for the referendum to let the jubilee government deliver on its election pledges noting Kenyans were weary of political campaigns having come from the 2010 Referendum and the 2013 General Election.
He said the government is committed to disbursing about 32 percent of its funds to the county governments, adding this is a clear indication that it is committed to devolution.
Ruto said calls for a referendum would jeopardise development agenda, saying the government is still young.
“If we were to decide that we are going to shelf our plans to construct more roads, more health centres and improve electricity coverage so that we can launch campaigns in the referendum, surely when will serve the people” posed the Deputy President.
Unlike CORD, which is pushing for amendments to the Constitution to change the presidential election system, the Council of Governors and the Senate are advocating for plebiscite which is aimed at, among others, pushing for revenue allocated to counties to be raised to at least 40 per cent from the current 15 per cent of national revenue.
The “March 4th Movement” lobby group which was launched by Odinga’s former campaign manager, Eliud Owalo and civil society activist Okoiti Omtatah intends to collect one million signatures to push for a referendum and ensure that the next president is elected by an electoral college rather than by popular vote.
The Governors, both from Cord and Jubilee, on Thursday stated that their position was based on the need to safeguard the implementation of devolution in the face of political agitation.
Of the total allocation to the counties, they proposed that 5 percent of the funds be administered at the ward level, with 2.5 percent to cater for women and youth projects and the other left to take care of development priorities.
The Governors initiative also seeks amend relevant articles of the Constitution in order to strengthen the Senate to cement its role as the guardian of devolution.
The Senate initiative to push for a referendum was necessitated by the confusion created when President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to the Division of Revenue Bill 2013, without their input. The Senate has already moved to the Supreme Court to seek an advisory opinion on their role on the Bill.