Secret meeting that averted revenue sharing showdown

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020 00:00 |
Senators Kithure Kindiki (Tharaka Nthi), Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi) and Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet) after yesterday’s session. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

Anthony Mwangi and Hillary Mageka

A two-hour closed door meeting attended by more than 20 senators from marginalised counties and their allies from the populous ones led to the decision to adjourn the contentious debate on revenue sharing in order to build consensus.

Senators mainly drawn from counties which were set to lose billions of shillings if the Third Basis Formula was passed and their allies from some populous counties held a meeting at the Panafric Hotel, Nairobi, hours before the debate and resolved to sponsor an adjournment motion to thwart a plot by their rivals to use delaying tactics to have the motion time-barred.

“The motion caught them by surprise, they did not expect it. We met at Panafric between 11 am and 1 pm and resolved that we ambush them with the adjournment motion because we knew they were relying on Standing Order 58 which states that a motion, once dropped, can only be reintroduced on the floor of the House after six months,” said a senator who attended the meeting.

“As much as we had the numbers, we resolved to beat them at their own game by forcing its postponement to a later date,” he added.

The meeting, People Daily learnt, was chaired by Mandera Senator Mahmoud Mohammed.

Also influencing the group’s thinking was the fear that the Executive planned to arrest Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja and his colleague, Farhiya Ali, whose absence from the House would have enabled Nominated Senator Beth Mugo to deliver the decisive vote in favour of the controversial formula..

Planned arrest

“We have adjourned to give room for more consultations, which will bring all senators, party leaders and CRA.

Everybody desires to achieve a win-win scenario, the motion for adjournment moved by Siaya Senator James Orengo was resoundingly defeated because senators felt they wanted to dispense with the matter, there and then, but today the House seemed to have developed some sobriety which has won by majority,” said Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’.

“We are inviting on board political party leaders, because some of the hardline positions being taken by some senators, were as a result of some political leaders,” he added.

Sakaja, on his part, condemned acts of intimidation targeted at him since last week when he led opposition to the proposed formula.

“What they have been doing to me is just but pure intimidation and issuing threats for me to change my stand.

But I want to tell them that I am not afraid, their actions have emboldened us to fight for the unity of our country,” he said in a phone interview.

During the debate, Sakaja narrated how he had been trailed and accosted by police, who allegedly wanted to arrest him and charge him on trumped up charges.

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala who had thrown his weight behind the senators from less populous counties said the change of heart was aimed at uniting the country.

“The decisive approach we had taken on this matter was definitely going to divide the country right in the middle.

Though as ‘Team Kenya’ we had overwhelming numbers to shoot down the proposal, we reconsidered the matter and agreed to give dialogue a chance,” he said.

“In our consultation and building consensus, we will loop in everybody who is interested in the process including CRA and party leaders, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.”

 It was a record seventh time the Senate failed to approve the contentious formula for sharing revenue among the country’s 47 counties after the motion was adjourned on Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen’s request.

Murkomen, who was backed by his Mombasa counterpart Mohammed Faki, successfully lobbied for the adjournment of the motion to give dialogue another chance.

“We want to come to a consensus where those who are losing by a huge margin may perhaps lose very little. We need time to dialogue,” said Murkomen.

At least 19 counties are staring to lose billions of shillings in budgetary allocations, with Mandera County being the biggest casualty losing Sh2 billion.

During the vote, 34 Senators voted in favour of Murkomen’s motion while 26 voted against it. Busia Senator Amos Wako was the only one who abstained.

“For us to appreciate this kind of conversation, I’m requesting my colleagues, let’s give dialogue one more chance.

Let’s adjourn this motion for us to have a conversation on how to find a way forward that can unite all of us,” Murkomen pleaded.

He said the outcome of the debate was crucial for the country, hence the need to come to a consensus rather than a contest.

“There’s an opportunity for all of us, as a Senate, to have a conversation on this subject matter and come to a conclusion where those who are losing by a huge margin may perhaps lose very little.

We cannot close our eyes on the conversation that Mandera, even though it has few people now, it’s because its potential has not been exploited,” noted the former Majority Leader.

Divisive formula

Faki, while seconding the motion, termed the proposed formula divisive and one that favours some select regions at the expense of already marginalised counties.

“When we sing the national anthem we say ‘Justice be our shield and defender’, what is this justice?

When we talk about justice, is it right for 19 counties to lose money while another 28 are gaining? It makes no sense,” Faki lamented.

Sakaja said his position for one indivisible Kenya remained unchanged, adding that threats to his life mean nothing as many have lost their lives for standing for the truth.

He told an attentive House that unmarked vehicles had been trailing him for the last four days with the occupants monitoring his movements.

“They started on Friday by trailing me and positioning themselves outside a place that I had gone for a meeting.

They raised their windows and sped off when I came out to confront them. This morning the same vehicle was stationed outside my gate as early as 5am,” he narrated.

Vihiga Senator George Khaniri asked his colleagues to come together and reason on how to come up with a formula that will be acceptable to all.

Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata, Samson Cherargei (Nandi) and Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu) vehemently opposed the adjournment, saying counties were starved of cash.

 “Even if we adjourn 100 times, we will never be able to arrive at a solution. Continuing with the debate does not mean that anyone who debates is ignorant or not sensitive to the fact that we need solutions in this country,” Wamatangi said.

sked members to put into consideration interests of all 47 counties while taking their position on the matter.

“Now that we have retraced our steps, we should remember that we represent all the 47 counties,” said Wetang’ula.

“I urge the leadership and all of us that we must give this House directions. Let’s not make this country rethink our existence as Parliament,” he added.

 Orengo said the House spoke through the vote and it had realised that it is easier to deal with equality than equity.

“It is not about needs of areas, communities and individuals. I take this as a bold step towards consensus,” Orengo said.

Poghisio, observed: “It is good to know what a whole week can do, to change someone’s mind to change from the side he or she was supporting.

“Leadership and members must reconsider their positions because we know the issue, we know what we want but we don’t seem to agree,” Poghisio said.

Kithure Kindiki (Tharaka Nithi) said Senate had begun on a wrong footing where counties were in collision with one another.

“Very bad terms have been used in this debate and it must come to an end because each county is unique,” Kindiki explained.

Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina said he was happy that senators have once again been given opportunity to reason together by looking at various amendments so as to build consensus.

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