Chebukati, Aukot plan another Punguza Mizigo bill?

IEBC commissioners led by chairman Wafula Chebukati are working with Thirdway Alliance leader Ekuru Aukot to introduce another referendum bill called Punguza Mizigo II.

Chebukati and his team have met Aukot to discuss the proposed bill which Thirdway Alliance wants to present to IEBC with signatures before the Building Bridges Initiative launches its final report.

The agreement between the two is for Aukot to save the commissioners in his bill and for IEBC to clear it, setting the stage for an alternative referendum bill.

The Yusuf Haji-led team has proposed reconstitution of the current commission. The commissioners are fighting that proposal and instead want to serve their full terms and retire at different times “to ensure continuity”.

“We suspect the commissioners are helping Aukot prepare the bill. They may have given him some signatures as well,” a senior IEBC official said on Monday.

The group is also reportedly seeking the support of a senior politician, according to people working with Aukot.

On Monday, Aukot denied claims that IEBC had given him signatures and that the commissioners were working with him to fight the BBI.

“We have collected 664,000 signatures so far and that process is ongoing. How and where does IEBC come in? Those making those claims are enemies of this noble initiative. We will not be intimidated said,” Aukot said.

Asked about who was funding the expensive exercise, Aukot said “Why is it that when it is Aukot, some people ask where does the party get money to fund such a drive? Any political project anywhere in the world is funded by its supporters”.

Aukot said he publishes the party’s books of accounts whenever he receives money from members of the public.

“Our pay bill is out there and a lot of Kenyans are supporting us. The truth of the matter is that I am the only party leader who has published accounts of the party after receiving money from members of the public. The rest have never done it,” he said.

Thirdway Alliance’s first push for a constitutional referendum surprised many when it jumped a major hurdle after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission verified signatures of over 1.2 million registered voters.

A similar earlier initiative by the Opposition dubbed Okoa Kenya collapsed after the electoral agency said the move had not been supported by at least one million registered voters.

Aukot said they have introduced a number of proposals to make the new initiative more appealing to Kenyans.

“For a long time governors are getting away with corruption. We want governors to be like the CEO, the chief accounting officer. Should anything go wrong, they should be answerable. We are actually stopping them from being politicians after getting into office,” he said.

He added that in the new proposals, county assemblies would be given financial autonomy. “We don’t want county assemblies to depend totally on the executive for funds. This way, they can play the oversight role well,” he explained.

Aukot added that the President will serve two five-year terms in the new proposals. In the first proposal, the Thirdway Alliance wanted a seven-year single term.

Punguza Mizigo Bill was only passed in Uasin Gishu and Turkana counties. It flopped after President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition Chief Raila Odinga rallied their troops to reject it.

The bill needed to be endorsed by at least 24 of the 47 counties to head to Parliament.

Edited by Henry Makori

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