Governors and MCAs to meet President Uhuru, Raila

Friday, November 6th, 2020 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi, follows proceedings during the virtual UNSC debate. Photo/PSCU

Eric Wainaina @EWainaina

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga will on Monday meet governors and Ward Reps in Naivasha to discuss contentious issues in the Building Bridges Initiative final report.  

The meeting follows concerns by county chiefs and Members of County Assembly (MCAs) and other interested groups, which have made various proposals on the document.

 BBI secretariat team dispatched invitation letters to the groups yesterday.

Participants are expected to arrive in Naivasha on Sunday.

 “Having listened to some of the issues that have emerged and been raised by various interested groups, the two principals (Uhuru and Raila) have decided to call a round-table meeting with them,” read a letter sent to the Council of Governors and dated November 5. 

 Yesterday, Council of Governors (CoG) chairman Wycliffe Oparanya confirmed that they had received the invitation that has also been sent to the County Assemblies Forum.

 “Yes, we have received the invitation and as a council. We  will attend,” the Kakamega Governor.

 Groups that have expressed concerns about the report include Persons Living with Disability, leaders from the pastoralist communities, women and a section of clergy.

 The meeting comes just a week after the two “Handshake” partners held a similar meeting at Great Rift Valley Lodge in Naivasha with lawmakers from the two Houses of Parliament.

The meeting is said to have ruled out any changes to the report and any negotiations, however, the secretariat have said it would consider fresh views.

 President Uhuru had argued that the document had been subjected to public participation in which the views of Kenyans were captured and therefore, no one had the authority to change, saying that would be tantamount to overturning the people’s views.

 But governors and MCAs, who are critical in the BBI process, have raised what they have described as patent issues, which they want addressed before the recommendations are subjected to a referendum.

 Governors, according to sources, have expressed concerns with what they say is a creation of a weaker Senate, saying they want it to be the Upper House to help protect devolution.

Mandatory requirement

 Further, in a move that could annoy women leaders, they want the mandatory requirement of a governor candidate to pick a running mate of either gender, saying it will have serious political implications since various factors are considered before a deputy governor is picked.

 Some, according to the county chiefs, include community to ensure inclusivity in areas that are dominated by more than one community, finance, political muscle to boost chances on being elected, factors they claim could be jeopardised.

 They want health services that have been at the centre of controversy between counties and the national government to be fully left in the hands of the regional governments, eliminating a situation where some of the issues in the docket are managed by the central government.

 Besides, governors want clarity on criteria for the appointment of Prime Minister and two deputies as a measure of ensuring inclusivity in the Executive.

 Of interest, they want to know how the process will ensure the appointees of the positions will not come from the same community of political parties.

Raft of issues

On the other hand, MCAs under the umbrella body of the County Assemblies Forum (CAF) have raised a raft of issues and warned that they will reject the proposals unless they are addressed. CAF is chaired by  Nyandarua Speaker Ndegwa Wahome

 A presser addressed by Ndegwa on Wednesday warned that the BBI report will not get the backing of the requisite 24 county assemblies in order to be unless it also guaranteed them financial autonomy.   

 They also demanded that the Senate’s powers as the devolution watchdog be enhanced and the Ward Development Fund (WDF) increased from the current five per cent to 30 per cent among a raft of other demands.

 The forum also wants BBI to entrench CAF in the Intergovernmental Relations Act with express representation in the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) and the National Summit.

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