Governors Ugatuzi Initiative proposes to widen Executive

Friday, September 20th, 2019 00:00 |
CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya (centre), Makueni governor Kivutha Kibwana and his Murang’a counterpart Mwangi Wa-Iria during a press briefing PD/FILE

The clamour for constitutional change gained momentum after the Council of Governors (CoG) presented itsr proposal under ‘Ugatuzi Initiative’ to widen the Executive structure.

The governors want an expanded Executive comprising the President as Head of State, Deputy President, Prime Minister as Head of Government and two Deputy Prime Ministers.

CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said they mooted the initiative to strengthen devolution. “The Cabinet shall consist of not more than 18 and 22 deputies,” he said.

At least a third of the Cabinet should be appointed from outside Parliament, with the leader of opposition coming from the party or coalition with the second most seats.

“The Leader of Opposition shall have a deputy and appoint a shadow Cabinet,” Oparanya added.

But in a quick rejoinder, the author of Punguza Mizigo Initiative, Thirdway Alliance Party leader Ekuru Aukot termed it an appendage of the Building Bridges Initiative.

“Just had a quick read of the Ugatuzi Initiative. It is an appendage of yet to be known BBI and a poor attempt to fight Punguza Mizigo,” he said.

Aukot observed that some proposals were not new as they were already in the Constitution.

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi, the co-chair of the committee that drafted the CoG proposal termed Aukot’s bill “academic and unrealistic”.

“Punguza Mizigo is very attractive but if you analyse it, it has not addressed the issue of wage bill. The main burden is not in Parliament or Senate but in the Executive,” said Kiraitu.

“Excess baggage is within each ministry. And also note where those services are required whether in National or county level, you can come to a more realistic conclusion to address the wage bill,” he added.

Kirinyaga governor Ann Waiguru backs the Building Bridges Initiative. She says its proposals are meant to unite the country.

The politics of referendum has been the fodder for antagonistic groups. 

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has publicly supported it while his fierce rival, Deputy President William Ruto, has opposed it.

Raila has urged Kenyans to embrace the BBI taskforce saying it is all-inclusive. 

On his part, Ruto has opposed any call for a referendum saying it aims to create political positions for a few individuals.

On equitable sharing of national resources, the Ugatuzi Initiative proposes the trickling of not less than 45 per cent to counties of the previous year’s revenue.

“Devolution is Kenyans lifeline. If we had it since 1963, we would be more advanced. We want to strengthen it to work well for the people,” said Makueni governor Kivutha Kibwana.

Strengthen devolution

The governors want five per cent of the 45 per cent of own generated revenue by counties to be reserved for special interest groups, 10 per cent set for farmers to guarantee food security, and 5 per cent for senior citizens and children.

There shall be a Ward Equitable Development Fund in every county, comprising 30 per cent of the current County Development Budget. 

CoG wants all contracts for exploitation of natural resources made public in which National government will get 70 per cent of the benefits, counties 25 per cent and communities 5 per cent. 

National Assembly members rejected the senators’ push for Sh335 billion allocation in the Division of Revenue Bill.

The Senate backpedalled and accepted Sh316.5 billion proposed by the National Assembly to prevent a shutdown of county governments.

Other roles of Senate include the approval of appointments to all constitutional offices, introduction of Senate Service Commission and involvement in approval of international treaties. 

To further strengthen devolution, CoG proposes to strengthen county assemblies and give them financial autonomy. The CoG initiative calls for the establishment of an Independent Political Parties Commission and Tribunal.

Governors also wants devolution of IEBC where elections of MCAs, governors, senators and MPs shall be conducted and concluded at county level. They also want it made mandatory for Kenyans above 18 years to vote and IDs the only requirement.

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