, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 20 – The Students Organization of Nairobi University (SONU) now says that the country is not ready for a referendum, arguing that it will derail development.
SONU chairman Zack Kinuthia says that calls for a referendum are driven by personal vendetta among some politicians who want to gain power through the backdoor.
He told journalists that the country has neither resources nor time to be distracted by sideshows aimed at giving relevance to politicians who have lost their flair.
“Our considered view is that the country is still in transition on all fronts and the most respectable – as well as patriotic -thing anyone who calls himself a nationalist can do is to give the country time to heal, reconcile and ground the Constitution,” he affirmed.
“Kenyans decided what system of Government they wanted during the 2010 referendum and, equally significant, during the March 4 2013 General Elections.”
He has also asked the opposition to accept they lost the elections and join hands with the government in working for the citizens.
“As the ancient Latin saying goes, Vox Populi, Vox Dei (the Voice of the People is the Voice of God). The people of Kenya spoke in 2010 Referendum and the 2013 General Elections,” the student chairman noted.
“Anyone who fails to hear the Voice of the People automatically fails to hear the Voice of God.”
The students asked leaders who have fought for democracy of the country “to borrow a leaf from Kenneth Matiba who sacrificed his health and property to give this country the democratic space we have today.”
“Yet besides all the sacrifices he made, not for a single day has Matiba stood to demand that he must be the President on the basis that he sacrificed so much for the country,” Kinuthia added.
The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims added its voice and called on Kenyans to reject any clamour for a referendum by either the opposition leaders or governors.
Speaking to Capital FM News, Secretary General Adan Wachu said any attempt to have a referendum will derail development and will also be expensive for the country.
“As a council we have resolved to distaste any call for a referendum four months after elections. The country needs time to grow,” he affirmed.
He urged leaders to give the government time to deliver on its promises saying it was still early to gauge on its success.
He said that the whole issue was being politicised noting that the government had shown its commitment to devolution.
Wachu further asked opposition leaders to join hands with the government in efforts to improve the livelihood of the citizens.
Their stand comes barely days after the governor’s council distanced itself from the opposition driven referendum saying it was not issue based.
The governors, both from CORD and Jubilee on Thursday (August 16) stated that their position was based on the need to safeguard the implementation of devolution in the face of political agitation.
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 the plebiscite to among others, pushing for revenue allocated to counties to be raised to at least 40 percent from the current 15 percent of national revenue.
The governors’ initiative also seeks to amend relevant articles of the Constitution in order to strengthen the Senate to cement its role as the guardian of devolution.
Other leaders have opposed calls for a referendum including the Deputy President William Ruto, who 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.
“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,” he stated.
Ruto has 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.
Ruto says 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.
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.