AfricaPress-Kenya: A number of enticing proposals targeting ward representatives and meetings to woo counties handed President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga a landslide win in the county assemblies that overwhelmingly passed a Bill seeking to change the Constitution.
The devolved regions that supported the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020, surpassed the threshold of 24 assemblies, sending backers of the document into early celebrations.
The proposed ward development fund to be managed by MCAs, increased allocations to the devolved units from the current 15 per cent to 35 per cent, as well as a Sh2 million car grant to the ward reps have been cited for the wave of endorsements sweeping through the assemblies.
The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) document extended several privileges to the MCAs, including having them serve as county ministers. This was seen in some quarters as a move by the proponents to win over key players.
BBI co-chair Junet Mohammed yesterday described MCAs as the “real heroes” of the moment, saying the document’s passage “has set the pace for a landslide win at the referendum”.
“We managed to first go to the counties by engaging the MCAs directly. We went through the document and managed to convince them that the document has very many beneficial proposals.
“It is also a confirmation that the country is ready to pass this document at the referendum. The MCAs are their representatives and they vote based on the feelings of the voters on the ground,” Junet said.
He added that the team engaged governors and the county leadership “to ensure the assemblies make informed decisions but the heroes of the moment are the MCAs.”
Weeks before the MCAs started debating the Bill, Uhuru and Raila held a series of meetings with the ward representatives where they rallied them to back the proposals.
Uhuru’s four-day working tour of Mt Kenya early this month turned the tables on opponents of the document. He visited the region against the backdrop of claims by some leaders that residents were hostile to the proposed changes.
But yesterday, Kiambu, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Nakuru, Nyandarua and Meru counties voted for the document, suggesting that his meeting with MCAs had been successful. His promise of a car grant is believed to have smoothed the road to victory.
His handshake partner, Raila, also held meetings with ODM MCAs in Nairobi. There was another meeting in Kisumu attended by elected leaders from the four Nyanza counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori, which have endorsed the document.
Regional political kingpins like Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi and Kanu boss Gideon Moi have also been crucial in rallying support for the document.
“County assemblies have been able to push back on a year-long campaign of lies, misinformation and undue influence on a document whose centre piece is ensuring prosperity and equitable sharing of the same.
“I thank the members of those county assemblies and our governors who refused to give in to mistrust, cynicism, brinkmanship and fear-mongering and passed the Bill resoundingly.
“We are extremely close to giving our people the reforms they need to create a united, inclusive, stable and prosperous nation that also deals decisively with the crime of corruption,” said Raila yesterday.
Central Organisation of Trade Unions Secretary General Francis Atwoli said passage of the document by the assemblies was because it has good proposals.
He struck a conciliatory tone, saying, “This BBI is good for every Kenyan. We don’t want to create a confrontation with anyone at this particular time. BBI is not for political or tribal realignment but for the benefit of the people.”
Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju also took a swipe at those who opposed the Bill. “If you put petty politics aside, this is a solid document with many benefits for the people. If you look at the document, it is an improvement of the 2010 Constitution.”