The Punguza Mizigo Bill has officially collapsed.
This is after it was rejected by more than 24 counties, which means it has failed to secure the majority support that would have led to its introduction in Parliament.
Only the Uasin Gishu County Assembly passed the proposed legislation.
The writing has been on the wall for weeks that the campaign to convince MCAs to back key changes to the Constitution would fizzle out.
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Ekuru Aukot’s Thirdway Alliance had collected more than one million signatures from voters to kick-start the process to change the supreme law through a popular initiative.
Dr Aukot (pictured) has blamed the bill’s collapse on propaganda, alleged bribery of ward representatives and a hostile campaign waged by major political players.
In Elgeyo Marakwet, 20 MCAs yesterday adopted a report by the Administration and Justice Committee that called for the bill’s rejection because of its “far-reaching implication if approved by Kenyans in a referendum”.
Committee chair Evans Limo said the bill was only supported by six residents out of the hundreds who turned up for public participation meetings.
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“We wish to thank Aukot for giving us the chance to interrogate the process of changing the Constitution. The proposals were, however, rejected because of their rigidity. If it was possible, we would have amended the bill before passing it,” Mr Limo said.
In Trans Nzoia, ward representatives rejected the bill tabled by Legal Affairs Committee Chair Mathew Orango.
During the debate, the MCAs said some proposals were unrealistic and retrogressive.
“The bill is meant to undermine the gains achieved in devolution. It discriminates against women, youth and people with disabilities,” said nominated MCA Anne Wanjiku.
Majority Leader Patrick Kisiero said it was unrealistic to reduce the number of MPs, adding that it would cause tribal conflicts in some counties.
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Garissa County Assembly also rejected the bill, saying it eroded constitutional gains.
Majority Leader Mohamed Gabow warned that the bill would “encourage clannism” in the county.
Enemy of devolution
In a motion tabled before the House by Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Chair Hamdi Ahmed Ali, the MCA said the bill was “further marginalising” already underprivileged areas by abolishing nomination slots.
In Kisumu, MCAs voted unanimously to reject the bill that they described as an “enemy of devolution”.
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The ward reps said they would throw their weight behind a report by the Building Bridges Initiative, a task force set up by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga.
In a motion tabled by Budget Committee Chair Stephen Owiti, the ward reps argued that the proposal to reduce the number of MPs would diminish contact between constituents and elected representatives.
The leaders also faulted the bill for not providing a mechanism to realise the two-thirds gender rule in county assemblies and the Senate.
MCAs in Nandi County kicked out the bill, citing clauses they argued negated the spirit of devolution. They took issue with proposals to establish a one-term presidency, abolish some constituencies and scrap the post of the deputy governor.
Aukot’s bill suffered a similar fate in Narok, Baringo, Nyandarua and Migori county assemblies.
In Narok, Patrick Sosio moved a motion praising the bill as “good for devolution”, but members unanimously rejected it when Speaker Nkoidila ole Lankas raised the matter.
In Nyandarua, the bill was rejected by all ward reps after being tabled by Ol Kalou MCA Ken Mukira. They said residents were unhappy with proposals to have a one-term presidency and the scrapping of nominated positions.
The Migori County Assembly also voted against the bill that was tabled by Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Chair Roseline Oyoo.
[Stephen Rutto, Renson Mnyamwezi, Osinde Obare, Abdimalik Hajir, Harold Odhiambo, Julius Chepkwony, Robert Kiplagat, James Munyeki and Caleb King’wara]
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